ROANOKE, Va. – Roanoke City Schools is looking into a possible solution for the next school year when it comes to ongoing transportation issues.
A transportation workshop consisting of parents, teachers, bus drivers, school board members, and Chief Operations Officer, Chris Perkins, came up with a staggered bell schedule.
The proposed schedule is a way Perkins and his team feel can help with kids who are coming to school late because of busses being late.
“There’s 1,000 kids that are late every day in our district. Of those thousand, 500 are over ten minutes. We owe it to each and every one of them just like the other 13,000 kids … that they get to school on time,” Perkins said.
Transportation issues are not new to the school district as throughout the year parents have voiced concerns over Durham School Services, the district’s transportation provider.
Even some of the drivers themselves have told 10 News about the issues.
Back in December, a three-bell schedule was proposed to the school board to try and help with some of the concerns. While it wasn’t approved then, the idea of changing schedules still was an option.
“This shouldn’t be a surprise. This was said in December that we’ve got to address something. Our school board said we’ve got to do it, just mid-year is not the time but we’ve got to address it,” Perkins said.
Perkins believes the new schedule allows room for success for any operator whether it be Durham or perhaps another service provider.
“No matter who operates our bussing, we’ve got to have enough drivers to do it. So we have to make an adjustment now and we’ve known this for the last 15 years,” Perkins said.
Some parents including Sarah Jones don’t think the bell schedule is the issue rather it’s Durham.
“It’s the way they’ve been for as long as I can remember. I’m not new to Roanoke City Schools but this is the way that it’s been and it’s worked. I don’t understand why we’re changing it for a company,” Jones said.
Jones decided to start driving her three sons to school after they weren’t even being picked up.
“Him and seven other kids were left on the side of the road…not once, twice, three times…the fourth time was the final straw for me and that was in the rain,” Jones said.
Perkins says he understands this proposed solution is not going to be the best for everyone. However, he believes it’s one that can help for a long time.
“This is a long-term solution for a problem that we’ve dealt with for years with whoever’s operating it,” Perkins said.
The school board will get a chance to vote on the proposal at a meeting on June 13. Jones says she and other parents are prepared to speak their minds at the meeting.