Struggles with Roanoke City Schools' bus operator have school year off to a bumpy start

By Taj Simmons - Reporter

ROANOKE, Va. - Roanoke City Schools' struggles with its new bus operator have started the school year off on a bumpy road.

Durham School Services' buses ran so late this week, the school district called parents and posted to social media about it.

Parents told 10 News that there were signs of improvement Thursday.

One parent said the bus driver picked up his kids earlier than before, but they were still later than expected.

This is definitely not the start Durham School Services was hoping for when it took over Roanoke's school bus system.

"We're relying on them to get our kids to school safely and to be there on time," said Chris Giles, a Roanoke parent. 

Giles has waited with his kids for their school bus this week.

"It's aggravating not knowing when they're going to come, if they're going to come or what the deal is," said Giles. 

He waited so long the first two days, he gave up and drove his kids to school himself.

"My wife's out there in her pajamas and I'm getting ready for work," said Giles. "I'm having to rush over there and be sure I get them over there before I get to work."

Giles' story is just a page in the troubled first chapter of Durham School Services' management of Roanoke's school buses.

Roanoke City Schools drew attention to Durham's delays yesterday with both a Facebook post and a robocall to parents.

Durham School Services sent 10 News the following statement Thursday:

"We continue to diligently make adjustments and improvements on a daily basis as we work together with the Roanoke City Public School's team.  We continue to recruit, screen and train drivers and monitors; we have several who will begin to operate on our routes in the next week."

Giles said his service improved Thursday. The bus was 45 minutes late, but he said he's glad it came at all. 

"It's a little better in the fact that I didn't have to run them over there, but it's still a big inconvenience, you know?," said Giles.

Roanoke City Schools still has a phone number that parents can call to air out their concerns with the bus service.

When asked for comment, the school district referred 10 News to Durham's statement.

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