Just before school started, Williamson County Schools informed parents that the buses for 14 area schools would need to run double routes to keep up with the increased number of students. This means that bus drivers pick up children, drop them at school and then run a second route. They repeat the double route in the afternoon as well.
“This is a new process for WCS and we appreciate the continued patience and understanding of our parents and students as we work to make the transition into double runs as seamless as possible,” said Allison Nunley,WCS Planning and Zoning Manager.
Many families have had to adjust to new pick up and drop off times and for some of those children (who are in the second route in the afternoons) they have a very long afternoon, not getting home until as late as 5pm.
Some parents have taken to social media to express their concerns:
This year, some bus drivers find themselves driving extra routes and some, like local bus driver Jerry Martin, saw a cut in their pay. Although Martin’s bus route is not one of the double routes, the pay decrease made him realize it was time to give his notice.
Jerry Martin is a Williamson County native who graduated from Fairview High School. Currently retired from Yellow Freight, he chose to work with Williamson County Schools as a bus driver for the past six years. Over the last two years, he explained that WCS has cut 1.5 hours per day of pay. Last year, his pay was cut by 1 hour a day which is the equivalent of $3,000 a year. And in the current school year, 1/2 hour a day was cut, equaling $1,500 a year. In total, Martin receives $4,500 less per year than he did two years ago.
All of this, even as Williamson County Schools officials have attended or hosted several public meetings in recent weeks discussing the urgent need to find more bus drivers, and the need for parents to utilize the buses (rather than drop off and pick up children at school) as part of an overall effort to reduce traffic.
Bus drivers are allotted 6 hours a day for their job. As the County grows, double routes or extended long routes have become necessary, making it much more difficult for the bus drivers to accomplish their route(s) in the allotted time, let alone complete all of their other tasks required, Martin explained.
Martin also outlined the responsibilities of the bus drivers:
- Clean the Bus each morning and afternoon
- Compile Student information for Emergency purposes
- Turn in Roster to the County
- Assign Seats to Students
- Wash Bus on a Regular Basis
- Responsible for Maintenance of Each Bus-taking the bus for oil change or any other mechanical issues that need to be addressed while staying with the bus until it is fixed
- Attend Meetings & Complete In Service
Below, you can read a letter Martin gave to the families he has served, letting them know he was turning in his notice.
We have contacted WCS for a comment and will update this story when we receive a response.
In addition, parents, we want to hear from you regarding your issues with double bus routes, extended routes, or losing a good bus driver this year. Tell us about your experience so far this school year.