GREENVILLE, S.C. (WSPA) – Thousands of students of students across the Upstate headed back to school, Tuesday, including Greenville County, which brought 500 new students into the district. Officials say, despite the growth of the area and a bus driver shortage, things went pretty well, but they are still desperate for help.
Despite a huge push by the district to get new drivers, they are still running at bare minimum and about 40 drivers short. This can often account for delays on your child’s route.
The district says their priority is keeping parents informed.
Greenville mom of two, Jessica Conner said she was pleasantly surprised Tuesday morning to get a phone call after getting her son cash off to Mitchell Road Elementary.
“Probably an hour after I dropped Cash off this morning, the system called our phones and just let us know that people made it safely,” said Conner.
This is the kind of peace of mind she and fellow neighborhood moms are praising, especially when unexpected moments arise like bus delays.
“It makes me feel like I know what’s going on,” said Conner.
Keeping parents in the know is a key aspect of Beth Brotherton’s job with the school district, especially on the first day, when about one percent of district busses were late to school due to mechanical and traffic issues.
“New drivers, new routes and new students; you never know what to expect on the first day, but I have to be honest, we are beyond pleasantly surprised,” said Brotherton.
Brotherton said on the way home, they did experience at least 5 bus delays due to mechanical breakdowns and an apartment fire. Brotherton said this was added on top of the extra ten to fifteen minutes that Greenville County School District Transportation officials say it takes to load elementary school busses on the first day of school.
Brotherton also wanted to reminded parents of kindergarten and first graders who ride the bus to bring their bus tag that matches the one worn by their child. Without it, the child will not be able to get off the bus and this requires the driver to bring the child back to the elementary school.
This can also push middle and high school routes back because the district does not currently have enough drivers to sub in these situations, due to the shortage.
Fortunately, a push to get more district bus drivers hasn’t gone unanswered. Brotherton said about twenty new drivers will be trained in the next few weeks.
“We are always looking. We are still encouraging people to apply and just go to our website for our online application,” said Brotherton.
In the meantime, parents can actually get real time bus delays on the Greenville School District Website. You just need to know your child’s route number.