Harris County School District announces changes to bus schedules
HAMILTON, Ga. (WTVM) - Harris County School District (HCSD) has announced the new changes to its bus schedule for the upcoming school year.
According to school officials, parents can expect the following changes:
- The afternoon bus routes of the four elementary schools and Creekside will be combined, just as they currently operate in the morning. This will require Creekside to be released before elementary schools. This routing change will eliminate the equivalent of 20 routes and two driver positions and save an estimated $250,000 in fuel per year.
- Approximately five middle school/high school routes will be combined. This will eliminate the need for three routes and three drivers.
- Buses will no longer go into private, gated communities, of which there are two. This change is due to liability issues. Instead, group stops will be arranged for these locations. This also will provide some fuel and time savings of nearly 30 minutes.
- Some group bus stops will be combined in appropriate areas, such as subdivisions and local municipalities. This will save on fuel and time.
The Assistant Superintendent of Business Services and Technology says these shifts are due to labor shortages and high fuel costs.
“As we prepare to start school on August 5th, we are facing a number of scenarios, including a shortage of certified bus drivers and extreme fuel costs,” said Justin Finney. “In preparation for these circumstances, we are communicating to parents changes in school bus transportation services, such as times, routes, and stops as well as the possibility of delays.”
The district says there is a chance at the start of the school year, HCSD will be down 14 bus drivers. The decline is because many drivers were lost due to their retirement in May.
“To date, we’ve received 19 new driver applications; however, it takes 35 to 45 days for drivers to complete the training required by the state and the district,” Finney added, “We may not see new bus drivers on the road until September.”
The other concern causing these schedule changes is fuel costs being at an all-time high.
Finney says that Harris County covers 430 square miles, and the district transports more than 3,000 students daily, twice a day, on 100 routes. As a result, HCSD needs to be as cost-efficient as possible while maintaining safety as its priority.
The district says parents should be aware that services and schedules are subject to change on short notice given the circumstances.
Parents should also note these changes could delay the student’s school arrival by one to two hours. However, in those cases, students will be excused for their tardiness.
“We do suggest that parents need to have a Plan B for bus delays,” Finney explained. “We will be working diligently to keep transportation available as best as possible and training new drivers as we can. We greatly appreciate everyone’s cooperation and understanding during this time.”
Bus cards with information on pick-up/drop-off times and bus location have been sent out, and parents should receive them no later than Monday, August 1.
For additional questions or more information on the bus schedule changes, click here or contact the school district at 706-628-4206
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