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Palm Beach County School District outlines bus improvements ahead of new school year

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Posted at 5:54 AM, Aug 01, 2016
and last updated 2016-08-01 11:34:49-04

School buses will be under scrutiny when students return to school in two weeks.

During a news conference Monday morning, Superintendent Dr. Robert Avossa said 700 new bus drivers have been hired with 60 new buses added to the fleet.

New bus routes will be posted on the school district website on Aug. 10.

Last year there was a lack of trust in the Palm Beach County Transportation Department. Parents complained their children were either left stranded or picked up extremely late.

 

During the first week of school, bus tardiness reached an all-time high, more than 30 percent of buses ran late.

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At first, the district pointed to a lack of bus drivers and the failed rollout of its routing and GPS system. However, in November an audit uncovered the issues were greater than that.

The Palm Beach County School District spent $50,000 on a self-imposed audit; five employees were reprimanded as result of it.

Among them was Transportation Director Dave Davis. He resigned a week before the audit's release. Superintendent Dr. Robert Avossa said he was given the option to resign or be let go.

The school's chief of support operations and chief operating officers were demoted and given pay cuts.

Altogether the audit found the issues were not limited to the transportation department, it found district-wide issues.

The report says in the district there is a culture of distrust, there were people promoted with little transportation experience and employees are choosing to ignore the chain of command by going behind their superior's backs.

The audit also pointed to a lack of staffing needed to roll out a new routing and tracking system that should have taken a year or two to implement.

Superintendent Dr. Robert Avossa has taken steps to fix the issues. In March, he announced a pay raise for bus drivers. They are now getting paid $14 an hour, making them the highest paid school bus drivers in South Florida.