MANATEE -- Transportation officials with the Manatee County School District expect a quieter week, after a busy first week that included a disabled bus at King Middle School, a student running into the side of a car in Ellenton after getting off a bus and late buses across the county.
"It's always like this, the first week of school," said Jason Harris, the district's director of transportation. "These thing will work themselves out."
During the first week of school, parents complained of consistently late buses and a lack of communication from the district in response to the delays.
Christa Thompson picks up her son, who attends Wakeland Elementary School, at a stop at Freedom Elementary School. The bus is supposed to arrive at 3:17 p.m., she said, but was delayed every day the first week of school.
"It's a half-hour or 40-minute ordeal," she said.
The uptick in traffic during the start of the new year, with more cars on the roads and in the schools and the process of organizing students to make sure they're on the right bus, often makes for a slow first week, Harris said. Once everyone has adjusted to the new routine, the issues should subside.
On Monday, the first day of school, a replacement bus was sent to King Middle after a regular bus broke down. On Tuesday, a 12-year-old student ran into a car that had passed a van stopped for the bus. The student sustained minor injuries.
Transportation set up a special call bank the week before school and for the first two days of school, where 12 operators answered questions and made sure parents knew where their students should be and when. On Wednesday, the department dropped down to the two regular customer service representatives.
"The volume of calls was tremendous," Harris said. "It has died down quite a bit."
Harris said the transportation department is still hiring bus drivers and monitors, although they are able to provide coverage right now. Hiring and retaining drivers has been an issue with the transportation department in the past.
Parents with questions or concerns can call the dedicated bus line at 941-782-1BUS (1287) or the district transportation office at 941-708-8800.
Meghin Delaney, education reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7081. Follow her on Twitter @MeghinDelaney.