Fewer bus problems on 1st day of school in Palm Beach County School District, superintendent says

Posted at 5:55 PM, Aug 15, 2016
and last updated 2016-08-17 12:36:15-04

SUBURBAN WEST PALM BEACH, Fla.-- On Monday, students in the Palm Beach County School District went back to class.

But this year, there were fewer problems with buses, according to the superintendent.

Robert Avossa said early Monday morning, "We have a much better opening day this year."

While there were some issues; he asks parents to be patient and call in any issues.

"With 60,000 kids that are going to be picked up, crisscrossing one of the largest counties in the state of Florida, it's going to be complicated," Avossa said.

He said the district will try to work out bus issues within the first two weeks of the school year.

This year, he said the district started off with more transportation staff than last year.

"Last year we were 50 drivers short on day one, this year we had approximately 50 more drivers than we needed," Avossa said.

Shane Searchwell is the general manager of the transportation department.

He said the call center is receiving a lot fewer calls this year compared to last year, when the transportation department was short on buses and drivers.

Many parents contacted WPTV NewsChannel 5 that day, saying their child's bus never showed up or was behind schedule.

"Were we embarrassed? Yes we were. Every last one of us were," Searchwell said about last year's issues.

But he added that the department is working to fix those problems.

"We have not had any breaks here in transportation but we recognize that we had to do it in order to roll out a much better school year this year," he said.

He said the district was trying to do too many things at once, like rolling out a new app so parents could track buses. The app is now being put on hold so the district can focus on its staff and equipment.

"We need to get this working to where we know we're going to get the children when we say we get them, then we move on to bigger and better things," Searchwell said.

One parent said she noticed the changes this year.

Kerry Harman's son, James, never went to class on the first day last year because his bus never showed up.

"Let's hope that going forward, we're going to have beautiful results like today," Harman said.

On Monday, she said her child's bus showed up on time. She hopes it will continue throughout the school year.

"He missed several days of school because there was no bus to pick him up. He was out here for hours waiting for the bus that never showed," she said.

To find your child's route, click on the bus stop locator.

If you have any issues with your child's bus, you're urged to call (561)357-1110.

If you're prompted to leave a message, leave as many details as possible and make sure to leave your phone number. A transportation employee should call you back within 24 hours.