Transportation Director says previous chaos led to safety issues
Some parents of Pickens County students say the recent changes to the bus transportation policy have left them scrambling to find childcare after school lets out.
But the school system’s transportation director Bruce Godfrey said the changes have been put in place for the sole reason of keeping Pickens students safe, not to make it easier on bus drivers or the system as a whole.
Under the new policy, students will not be allowed to be picked up or dropped off at different locations. The morning pick-up address can be different from the afternoon drop-off address, but morning and afternoon stops must be consistent.
“We can’t have students riding here one afternoon, then to a friend’s house this afternoon, then to grandma’s house the next,” Godfrey said. “This was initiated because of safety concerns. We get tons of calls last minute from parents and drivers get a barrage of notes they are trying to keep up with about who gets off at what stop and this creates a distraction.”
Godfrey said it was these kinds of distractions that caused two children to get off at a stop last year and go to a residence where no one was home.
“It ended up being okay, but these are the problems it can create,” he said.
Pickens mom Ashley Lee, who has three children in Pickens County schools, said she understands the safety concerns for children, but that she has no idea what she is going to do this school year as a result of the new policy.
“We only have one vehicle and my aunt was helping us by keeping our elementary school daughter on days my husband works,” Lee said, who commutes to Cherokee County. “Due to the new changes she will not be allowed to ride the same bus to two different locations.”
Lee’s aunt, who does not drive, lives on the same bus route less than two miles down the road.
“We are in a bind and honestly do not know what we are going to do,” she said. “Our options are to send [our daughter] home alone on these days, which is not something we will do, or to pay for after school, which causes a whole new set of hardships for our family.”
The transportation director said they understand parents’ concerns, but something had to be done to address the problem.
“The way it was being done creates chaos at school,” he said. “Being a bus driver is a tough job and all those changes make it more chaotic.”
Godfrey said parents will be able to make transportation change requests, but that they must now be formal requests of a more permanent nature.
“You can’t just call in to make a change,” he said. “You have to fill out a form and go through the proper channels. These have to be long-term changes, not just changes for one day.”