‘Inexcusable’: Southwest Licking Schools Apologize For Busing Delays


UPDATED: Wednesday August 20, 2014 4:48 PM

Irate parents are demanding answers from Southwest Licking Schools Wednesday after there were huge problems getting school kids home on Tuesday.

The buses were rolling again Wednesday morning, and the superintendent told 10TV the longest bus delay was 20 minutes - that's compared to three hours a day ago.

“We are working to get them home within an hour or thereabouts.  Yesterday, we were working with some extenuating circumstances, but if I list them now, they would seem like excuses,” explained Bob Jannell of Southwest Licking Local Schools

Many students in Southwest Licking Schools are attending new schools this year - after the district announced a new "grade banding" system last May.

Rather than attending their neighborhood school, elementary students are being bused to different schools -  grouped together by year. 

Those changes added to the confusion that's typical on the first day of school, causing mass delays district-wide.

10TV has learned some of the other issues included students getting on incorrect buses, drivers who didn't know their routes and got lost, a daycare drop off that closed before students arrived, and home addresses that were not correct.

The superintendent calls the huge wait for many students, “inexcusable.”

However, his apology doesn't calm the fears of some parents.

Stacie Jeffers says it wasn't easy to put her 7-year-old back on the school bus Wednesday morning, after what she went through on the first day.

“They got out at 3:15 p.m. and Shelby didn't get home until 5:37 p.m. and she was sitting on a bus in the 90 degree heat for two hours - no bathroom, no water, no nothing,” said Jeffers.

Kindergartners will begin their first day of school Friday.  The superintendent says all glitches will be worked out by then, but there will likely be a small delay due to picture-taking.

Jannell says one hour is the new average bus ride for a student in Southwest Licking but three hours is unacceptable.

The grade banding system comes after voters (for the second time) rejected a school bond levy last spring.

“Show me that you're going to do something with it that I need - a new building, more buses. Show me something. We're not seeing it,” said Lori Ruggiera, parent.

“We have no excuses. Our buses ended up having students on them longer than we wanted,” added Jannell.

District officials say 25 of 30 elementary school buses arrived on time Wednesday morning. 

While that’s better, parents say it still "needs improvement."

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