RANDOLPH COUNTY, N.C. (WGHP) — While kids are focused on their summer plans, parents in Randolph County ended the school year with some homework.
They will have to adjust their schedules to get their kids to school on time. Transportation for years has been a pain point for some Randolph County parents and staff
“We should be running more buses. But we don’t have enough people to drive them,” said “We should be running more buses. But we don’t have enough people to drive them,” said RCS Transportation Director Wendy Anderson.
As of Thursday, the Randolph County School district runs 141 buses, which is down 23 buses prior to COVID.
The district also has 44 openings for bus drivers.
“When we don’t have enough buses, we end up running longer routes, which is bad for kids, bad for parents, bad for staff,” Anderson said. “Our run time currently is about two hours in many places. We are picking up at 5:30 in the morning and dropping off at 5:30 in the evening.”
Those long shifts and routes had Randolph County transportation leaders looking for options. Their solution is a tiered bus pilot program.
It will help with the staffing shortage by reducing the district’s fleet by 10 buses, meaning they’ll need fewer drivers to fill them.
It’s a plan that’s been three years in the making.
“This works because the elementary routes are short, so what we would be able to do is go out get middle school kids and get elementary school, and it works. It’s like running the same bus twice,” Anderson said.
There’s a total of two elementary schools and five middle schools that will have new start times.
Uwharrie Ridge 6-12 and Southeastern Middle will see shifts from 7:20 a.m. to 2:35 p.m.
Coleridge Franklinville, Farmer, Ramseur and Tabernacle Elementary Schools will see shifts from 8:15 a.m. to 3:35 p.m.
The question for a lot of parents is why middle school students are being picked up first.
RCS transportation leaders say elementary students need a parent or supervisor when getting dropped off.
If no one is available, they will be brought back to the school to wait for a parent.
On Monday, drivers had to bring back 27 students.
Transportation leaders say with later drop-off times in the evening, it will help alleviate that problem as well.
High schools in the county will not be affected by the new start times.