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‘Something that needs to be addressed’

Board of ed addresses township shortage of buses and drivers

According to the township board of education, an increase in starting salaries for bus drivers and a possible bonus were moves made to address a shortage of buses and chronic lateness on routes. Courtesy of Four Square

Late school buses and a driver shortage were hot topics at the township board of education’s meeting earlier this month.

“We’ve raised the starting wages with bus drivers, and we provide a bonus for those who show up for all 180 school days,” said Sal Randazzo, the board’s coordinator of communication.  “We’ve been able to get some people, but other schools are trying to get drivers from the same pool of people.

“We need to make sure that the drivers have what they need and that schools get kids out on time.”

As a result of the shortage, current drivers have doubled their efforts by transporting both middle and high-school students, a move that some fear will lead to bus overcrowding.

“They’re not putting more people on buses than they’re supposed to,” said Randazzo. “Kids are also going to have to move their bags to make room for others. The issues with transportation right now are something that needs to be addressed.

According to Randazzo, the “long” board meeting saw a large turnout, with about 60 to 70 township parents anxious to make their case about the shortage to the board. Many of them cited their own experiences with the issue.

Randazzo said the board has been working tirelessly to fix the issue as it makes sure kids get to school on time. One solution would have the district reach out to parents to inform them of specific issues that could result in lateness.

“Communication is a big thing,” Randazzo noted. “Everybody’s working it the best we can, and we’re trying to improve everything the best we can.”

The next board of education meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, Oct. 4, at the Blackwood Terrace building, 890 Bankbridge Road, Suite 100, in Sewell. The session will start at 6:30 p.m., with bus issues expected to be a major topic.

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