Pasco students transition to new bell schedule amid bus driver shortage

Pasco County

PASCO COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) — Students in Pasco County will have a new bell schedule when they return to class from winter break on Tuesday.

In November, the Pasco County School Board approved a plan to adjust bell times to deal with the ongoing bus driver shortage. The new plan has four start times instead of three, so the bus routes could run with fewer drivers.  Start times will be as early as s 7:10 a.m. and as late as 10:10 a.m. The day will end anywhere between 1:30 p.m. and 4:20 p.m. Some students will arrive an hour earlier or later than they before. The district has a list of start and end times for each school on its website.

During the first semester, hundreds of students taking the bus were arriving up to an hour late, including Melissa Williams’ son. Williams has five children and three step-children in the district.

“For the high school and middle schooler’s it’s not an issue because they’re both going on the bus at the same time,” Williams said. “But the big problem is there’s nobody here for the little ones and that’s the issue.”

Her youngest three are third graders at Anclote Elementary. The school’s new start time is 10:10 a.m., but Williams and her husband have to be at work at 8 a.m.

“We’re kind of put in a position where one of us might have to leave our job in order to accommodate this change in schedule,” she said.

She said the daycares she calls are expensive and often full, so it’s not an option. She said she reached out to the school board and a state representative for help. In the meantime, her mother is helping her.

“I understand the adjustment that they’re making because the bus driver shortage but I feel like they should’ve thought about it better in terms of how to accommodate the little children when the parents are working,” said Williams.

The district said the bus driver shortage, while always an issue, is worse than they’ve ever seen. Superintendent Kurt Browning has always said the solution is imperfect, and he knows there will be issues.

“We had some kids arriving to school over an hour late.  And that’s lost instructional minutes and we can’t afford to have our kids missing out on educationally on this.  So that’s the reason we were prompted to do this,” Browning said. “I think the hiccup that we know we’re going to have is parents that have not read, heard or seen about the time change.”

Copyright 2022 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Trending Stories

get the app

News App

Weather App

Don't Miss

More Don't Miss