CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. -- Late or no-show school buses have plagued the first few weeks of school in Chesterfield, and one mother of three elementary students said those issues continue for her family.
Katherine Elliot’s son is in the gifted program at Marguerite Christian Elementary, but her two daughters attend Ecoff Elementary. Elliot said she anticipated school transportation would be trickier, but she did not expect what she called a “nightmare.”
Elliot said her son constantly gets home after 5:30pm, and her calls to the Chesterfield County Schools Transportation Department brought more questions than answers.
“I called transportation on Friday, and they told me until further notice that his particular route was going to be at least 30 minutes. There was no driver,” Elliot said.
Elliot said most of her off days from work have been spent trying to find a bus route for her son that would get him to school on time. Monday, she took him to a different bus stop of his school, but she said that bus did not show up in time.
Plus, she said her daughters’ bus is prone to arriving at school as the first bell rings.
"There’s no set routine. It seems almost daily the routine is getting changed. . . Every day, they don’t know if or when the bus is coming, what time they are going to be getting home,” Elliot said.
Since the beginning of the school year, CBS 6 has reported on bus route problems in Chesterfield related to a county-wide change in the school bell schedule. Chesterfield County school leaders have sent multiple letters and emails to parent promising a fix was in the works.
“Our transportation department is aware of issues with regard to the routes mentioned. They are working to address issues which are preventing our operations from running as smoothly as they should,” wrote Shawn Smith, spokesperson for Chesterfield Schools, when asked for comment on Elliot’s situation.
"When they’re getting off the bus sometimes at 5:30pm, and they have to be somewhere at 6pm, and then they have homework and showers and diner, there is no family life. There’s no quality spent with the family,” Elliot said.
Armed with Chesterfield School Board meeting calendar print-outs, Elliot is urging other parents to voice their concerns in person, not just online.
"I’m going to the bus stops, handing them out to parents, because the only way the school board is going to take this seriously is when parents show up to these meetings.” Elliot said. "It’s a disruption to the class, so kids who are not being directly effected by transportation right now are going to be affected. It’s just a snowball effect, it’s all trickling down. It needs to be addressed, it needs to be fixed."
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