New school bus routes for Marion County raising concerns

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MARION COUNTY, W.Va (WDTV) - At the latest Marion County BOE meeting, bus operators voiced concerns about some routes changing throughout the county.

Superintendent Gary Price says these routes are changing due to multiple driver retirements, but could be a good thing.

"To eliminate a couple routes, we can do it this year and not actually have to fire anybody to get that accomplished," said Superintendent Price "We would be able to cover those routes with employees currently on staff."

The major concern operators have with these changes is how long students could now be on the bus.

West Virginia guidelines say for one-way trips elementary school kids shouldn't be on longer than 30 minutes, middle school 45 minutes, and an hour for high school.

"We're reviewing those carefully. We're going to take a couple more test runs in those areas to make sure our numbers are what we thought they were."

These retirements aren't only effecting the length of some bus rides, but other routes completely, which Superintendent Price says is to be expected in these situations.

"It sometimes takes three, four, five buses to pick up the pieces of that route so students are still picked up in an orderly manner. So when you move one, several are affected. That's just how it is."

While these retirements aren't bogging down the full time staff, the county has had a shortage of substitute bus drivers able to step in, citing the training time as an issue.

"That's always a concern. Sometimes they opt to take other positions. Bus operators, more than other service personnel, have an extensive traingin course. Which you'd understand for driving a school bus they need to."

The new bus routes have not yet been finalized.