Longer Bus Routes Causing Safety Concerns Among Parents

- SOLGOHACHIA, AR- Does three hours sound like a long time for you to get to and from school? Some Conway County parents are frustrated this is the reality their kids face. One couple says the South Conway County School District (SCCSD) just tacked on an additional hour to their children's bus trip. Bus drivers are getting more routes and it's concerning parents who believe safety is at stake when drivers are pressed for time.

"Last month of last year. That's when it really started getting long," says Lenny Stroud, SCCSD Parent.

It's become a waiting game for Lenny and Regina Stroud. The couple found out their children's bus route is even longer this year, as they remain on stand by at their Solgohachia home. They watched their kids walk off the bus 30 minutes later than usual.

"To and from school, they're spending 3 hours on the bus. That's almost half the time they spend in school itself," says Stroud.

Even their children admit, they don't look forward to the long, overcrowded ride to and from Morrilton Middle School.

"This little girl, she had to sit in my seat with me on my lap," says Abby Stroud, SCCSD student.

"It's like a disaster waiting to happen," says Lenny Stroud. "The very first day of school, there was a school bus accident that hit an overpass. I feel like these drivers are pressed for time."

Shawn Halbrook, South Conway Co School District Superintendent, admits the district does have longer bus routes this year. He's received a handful of complaints from parents.

"We've had to consolidate our routes," says Halbrook.

The district had to consolidate because they don't have enough bus drivers. They cut three routes which means bus drivers are taking on 10 additional stops.

"We've spread out more kids on less buses, more stops, slows it down," he says.

Halbrook understands parents concerns, but wants to make sure they hire qualified bus drivers.

"We would love to have more bus drivers because I don't want any kids on the bus any longer than I have to," he says.

But Lenny wants his three kids to have enough time to eat breakfast at school and not have to rush to class.

"I mean if we're shorthanded now, what's gonna happen when one of them calls in?" says Stroud.

He and others believe the problem will only get worse if the district continues down the same route.

The SCCSD hopes to hire five qualified bus drivers to help with the long bus routes.

To keep up with Susanne Brunner's reports, "Like" her Facebook page and follow her on Twitter

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