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Students head back to school in Palm Beach County

Posted at 5:28 AM, Aug 14, 2017
and last updated 2017-08-14 13:00:40-04

Palm Beach County had an easy roll out of its routes and buses Monday morning, something we didn’t see two years ago.

RELATED: More Back to School coverage | Back to School pictures | Bus stop locator

 

The transportation department knew it had to do two things to alleviate issues in prior years, hire more bus drivers and buy new school buses.

"The team has been working tirelessly all summer long, repairing buses, purchasing new buses, bringing them on," Chief Operating Officer, Donald Fennoy said. 

This year there are 78 new buses ($9 million worth) hitting the road equipped with air conditioning, seat belts and security cameras.

If some buses break down, the district says they have back up buses ready to go.

"If there's a bus in your neighborhood, ride that bus," Fennoy said. "It's important for us to get kids on the bus so we can eliminate some of the issues on the road."

Also on deck are 30 back up drivers ready to go in case some call out or quit.

In 2015, the lack of drivers and ready to go buses plagued the district that caused issues that the district says won’t happen this year.

“I feel pretty good. It’s like coaching. I hope the team’s ready. They’ve had two good practices, mock runs, so I’m hoping Monday we’re going to have a successful day,” said Palm Beach County Schools Transportation Director Pete DiDonato.

The Palm Beach County school district says they have addressed the cultural issues that added to the bus meltdown.

During the peak of the problem, they lost 141 drivers. Last year it dropped to 89. Superintendent Robert Avossa credits the bump in pay as one of the reasons that helped the problem.

Avossa spend much of Monday morning visiting several schools in the district.

Around 90 percent of the buses were on time.  Only one out of 800 buses broke down while on it's route.

There was a minor air conditioning problem at Boca Middle School, but it has been fixed.

This school year 193,500 students will attend school public schools in Palm Beach County. Avossa anticipates that number will rise the next two weeks.