Williamson County School Bus

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:

 

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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.

Jerry Martin Driver

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.

[poll id=”47″]

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26 COMMENTS

  1. This is really sad and I know that the buses are doubled, some kids are on the bus longer than one hour each way to and from school. This is ridiculious and if the county wants to continue being one of the best then they need to treat all their employees with respect and fairness. These are the people responsible for the safety of your children… wouldn’t you want to make sure they are wll taken care of.

  2. Looney Money suppose to be so good for Williamson County why has he not done something positive for our drivers? They are carrying our children for God’s sake. Wake up people, this needs to be addressed. SOME HOW SOME WAY.

  3. Buses should run on the main roads only. Let parents drive kids to the beginning of the neighborhood cut down on the amount of buses we need if we need to put extra bus drivers on the buses were kids are stinkers pay them more and half fewer drivers

  4. the transportation has long need an infusion of common sense. At one time our kids picked up the high school bus at 5:50 am and returned home at 4:20. First on in the morning and last off on the way home. I was told time and time again the “computer” set the route. As former WCS employee myself It is dishearten how little the county is willing to spend to insure our children have a educational system that cares about them. Some of the restrictions for hiring drivers is ridicules. Parents need to demand that our children are put first. Time to rid the system of the old school mind set. This county is just going to continue to grow at a rapid rate. Seems the WCS is always playing catch up and not thinking to the future. Anyone that’s attend more effienct and successful school districts knows it can be done better than its being handled now.

  5. Jerry was the driver on my daughter route. This was her first year she finally convinced us to let her ride. Since he’s left we wait on average 30-30 mins in morning and after school never knowing who or when the pick up and drop offs are. Was super impressed and now not at all and we will be doing the pick up and drop offs due to lack of communication going on.

  6. Your survey does not allow for additional tracking of why/why not the bus is currently being used. We fall in the category of using the bus last year for both MS and HS but not this year.

    In fact we are starting a neighborhood carpool for both our MS and HS students due the ridiculousness of the buses this year and how the situation is being treated by Williamson Schools. I believe other families are doing the same.

    Certain buses were running late regularly with one of my children being late to school 30-45 minutes each day for the first week of school. In fact she was counted tardy – how is that her fault? We are also dealing with a new bus driver that does not seem to be suited to the job – a lot of yelling at kids and inconsistent punishment – a warning for a kid blasting vulgar music out of a speaker but other kids getting written up for standing up a second to soon as the bus is stopping? Lots of threats being thrown around to take the bus back to school. Several kids saying that they never want to ride that bus again.

    I am sorry to see the bus driver in the story go – we need a lot more like him. It is ridiculous with the amount of money in the budget that WC has for schools and the large raise that Looney just got that they are cutting driver’s pay and this is not more of a priority to the administration.

    This is not just a rant – we have contacted both the Bus Transportation system and the principals of the schools multiple times to complain.

    Hopefully something will be done – especially with the amount of growth that Williamson continues to experience.

    • Bent Creek Resident, I want to encourage you to go to the school board meetings if you can and to also reach out to your school board member. I believe your member is Dan Cash, and he does a good job at listening and responding to constituents. Some board members just ignore theirs. The board as a whole is wasting time politicking and not focusing on real issues such as the bus driver shortage. And this is their job, to write policy to help attract employees of better quality. Just the last meeting alone they spent a ridiculous amount of time fighting over an AP textbook used by 9 students although the book had been approved by all parents of the 9 students. In my opinion some board members care more about making their political sponsors happy rather than actually listening to the community and focusing on items that most impact the well being of students. I’m not saying the administration shouldn’t be held accountable but their hands are tied as they do not set district policy.

  7. People have long been fooled into thinking Williamson County was the end-all, be-all of school systems. It is ONLY because the kids come from more affluent homes that test scores are higher and therefore false ideas of countywide school system being better.. fPeople think “money” when they think of WCS, and congrats on your success.. However, here we have those on the front line of protecting precious cargo kicked to the curb so we can pay more to the Looney’s of the county. Think Looney has ever had charge of your child’s safety? HA! Get real folks. We just raised his salary while cutting the pay of the daily caretaker. Idiotic. You really think looney is going to change your kid’s future more than a teacher or even a bus driver? What a joke WCS has become. Williamson country schools have cut their nose off to spite their collective face. Cash it in Looney.

    • Is bus driver pay set by the administration (Looney) or by the Board of Education (Looney’s boss) ? I don’t know the answer myself, which is why I’m wondering why everyone is mad at Looney. He may not have authority in the matter of driver compensation. He just enacts the policy set forth by the board.

    • Thanks Rebecca, as a teacher in Williamson County I appreciate that the only reason our students perform well is their affleunce.

  8. This saddens me to see good bus drivers go. Part of our children’s education is safe travel to and from school. If WC wants to continue being THE BEST, which I believe we are, then this issue must be addressed and rectified immediately! As with most things in life, you get what you pay for and I, for one, want GREAT bus drivers for my/our kids!

  9. Not only did Dr. Looney receive a pay raise, but teachers received a small (very small) increase in pay as well. It was much publicized as it was debated and voted upon. It’s a shame some of our most valuable support employees were not also included in the raises, but it is absolutely unacceptable that some have seen their incomes decrease! The shortage in bus drivers is shameful. I might also add that the county began limiting the number of hours substitute teachers are allowed to work each month, so the county also has a shortage of substitutes (especially problematic at the end of each month when the subs have worked as many hours as they are allowed). Come on Williamson County Schools, we can do better.

    • I thought all Williamson County school employees got a 5% raise, including drivers and other staff. That is a lot better than most of the private sector got; however, I think we can agree that teachers are grossly underpaid. But Looney had to fight for that 5% for staff. The county commission didn’t want to even give half of that. So instead of blaming Looney, maybe you should look to who controls the money because he doesn’t. His salary increase just puts him at the average for superintendents nationally. The cut in sub hours was so health benefits do not have to be covered because of the ACA. And we all know who to blame for that.

  10. I am and will be sacrificing a full time job in order to pick my kids up from the bus every day. I will be a single Mom soon and can’t really afford to live in Williamson County anymore. But, I will do everything in my power to keep my girls in the same schools. For what everyone pays in taxes here, I am disgusted at what is happening. I cannot believe the bus drivers did not receive a raise with our teachers.
    Maybe I will just take my kids and move from this ridiculously expensive and greedy county! Not a happy Mom!!

  11. I am glad to hear others people have concerns. When I talked to Ms. Nunley about my concerns with my son’s late bus (Driver decided he did not like the route on the website – changed it for his convenience without notifying the parents. Past the bus stop where his ride was waiting and left him off at an empty house) her response was flippant. I was told the route was changed for safety reasons. This answer didn’t make sense for two reasons. One -the bus has been using this route for years with no problems (different driver). Two the route was changed by the new driver (without notification to the parents) because he lives down the street and it is more convenient for him. We are currently using other means to get to and from school but it is a shame the transportation department is not held accountable.

  12. How is it right to give Dr Lonney a big raise in pay but cut our bus drivers pay and have them run double routes. To me that just isn’t right the bus drivers work hard and keep our children safe on the way to school and home let’s show them some respect.

  13. Thank everyone for expressing their concerns on this important issue. We are working hard to recruit and retain drivers. Please allow me an opportunity to provide additional information.
    All drivers received a 5% raise this year and we worked hard to secure it.
    WCS bus drivers are paid hourly for the time they drive. Driver pay could only be reduced if he/she switched routes to something shorter. Typically, this occurs when a driver requests a route closer to home or when we have to shift drivers due to growth. Drivers that are doing an extra run work longer and earn more. Those who live far from their route are compensated for their extra-long drive time.
    Starting pay for drivers is over 14 per hour with experienced drivers earning more for longevity. In addition, we pay drivers an extra 88 hours each year to keep their buses clean and to take them in for service. Although bus drivers do not work a 40 hour week, they do receive full time benefits to include health insurance, retirement, life insurance etc….
    There is a regional bus driver shortage and many middle TN districts are competing for drivers. It is a particularly difficult challenge in Williamson County in part because of the lack of affordable housing in the community.
    Unfortunately, our director of transportation recently passed and this has put the department behind schedule in filling vacancies. We have someone working on this full time, have 8 drivers in training and are currently interviewing for a new director.
    I apologize for the inconvenience this issue has created for families. We are working diligently to resolve it. A vast majority of our drivers are hardworking, dependable, and are deserving of additional compensation. I support these individuals and will continue to work on their behalf. Hopefully, the community will support such an action in the future.
    I am completely open to input and suggestions from the public on how to best address this challenge. I can be reached by phone at 615.293.0997
    Respectfully
    Mike Looney

  14. Jerry is just one of a dozen or more who have resigned, found other jobs or taken early retirement. You are being left with fewer and fewer experienced professional drivers to handle more and more students over thousands of more miles.
    I’m a current employee and my pay has seen similar cuts but not my work time. We are not paid for the actual hours we put in.
    Pay was cut $1500 to $6000 for many drivers while administration got in excess of $30,000 in raises.

    By the way, they are half a dozen mechanics short too.
    Who is taking care of the busses your children are riding?

  15. The bus issue has always been a problem for my family but it’s much worse now that my son is in middle school at BMS. He is the first to be picked up in the morning and last off. This means he catches the bus at 6:17 AM and is home around 3:30. He averages 45-50 minutes sitting on the bus everyday EACH WAY! That’s almost 2 hours a day wasted for a 12 year old kid to travel 6 miles one way. So much for family time in the evening once homework is done, dinner is served and we squeeze in a sport twice a week.

    I know there are other families who have it worse, but 6:17AM has changed all of our lives! We have to limit evening activities as my 12 year old has to go to bed so early to get up in the morning. It’s crazy.

    Pay the bus drivers whatever is needed to attract them to the job and KEEP them on the job. We pay enough to live in this county and deserve better than this. Our drivers for sure deserve better!

  16. I agree that we need to work harder to attract and keep bus drivers. I support paying our teachers MUCH more than what they’re currently paid, and I support Dr. Looney’s policies and vision.

    BUT, this all takes money, which comes from gov’t. revenue, which comes from taxes paid by us. To all of you above making statements like “we pay enough to live in this county and deserve better than this” … are you kidding? We pay some of the lowest taxes in the country — plus no state income tax? No wonder Tennessee feeds from the teat of the federal gov’t. Talk about “takers.” Williamson County is one of the wealthiest in the country, and it’s sad that its residents have the audacity to complain about a lack of vital services (bus drivers, infrastructure improvements such as roads to keep up with the excessive growth, etc.) while complaining about what little they actually do pay in taxes.

    You get what you pay for, folks …

  17. I am deeply unhappy about the double bus routes, and don’t understand why the wealthiest county in Tennessee cannot or will not pay people an appropriate wage for such an important job. Furthermore, I wasn’t even notified of the double route until less than 24 hours before school started for the year. Very disrespectful! My daughter has ADHD, and getting home late in the afternoon has really set her back academically because of the late hours in which she begins and ends her homework. I work at Vanderbilt on campus and am unable to pick her up from school. This problem needs to be funded toward resolution, and soon.

  18. Mr. Looney,
    With at least the same level of respect you show underlings, I must object to the way you are crowing about giving staff a raise.
    At $15.00 per hour, 5% is at best $00.75 per hour; or on the reduced hours plan you set in motion, about $5.00 a day.
    Compare that to the 1-2 hour cut back which equals a loss of $15-30.00 per day on the same pay scale.
    That means you gave employees a $25.00 weekly raise while simultaneously reducing their pay as much as $150.00 per week for many drivers.

    Spinning the facts with the “88” hours and “5%” speech is little more than a political smoke screen. Good for you in print; awful end results for employees and parents of students who pay the taxes and trust you to steward resources.
    Tell us again how we are the first and last best impression of the corporation to the parents and students on a daily basis; how you respect and value what the drivers do.

  19. WCS doesn’t willy-nilly decrease driver pay. Mr. Martin first requested a shorter route, then came back and asked for a route closer to home. Shorter route equals less driving equals less pay. Why do people think they should continue to be paid for less work/fewer hours? Instead of knee-jerk reactions folks, ask more questions of people who KNOW, and not the friend of your neighbor’s girlfriend’s hairdresser. The Williamson County Commission controls the money AND regulates growth in WC. Maybe we need to slow growth a little to give the infrastructure a chance to catch up?

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