Leon County schools opening call center after complaints about new bus routes

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By: Monica Casey | WCTV Eyewitness News
August 9, 2019

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) -- After multiple days of parent complaints, the Leon County School District is opening a call center to assist with navigating the new bus routes.

Complaints from parents included a lack of information, delays in receiving information and the removal of some bus stops. Some parents are worried about routes that seem to have children crossing four lane highways, walking almost three miles and walking on roads that do not have sidewalks.

In a video posted to the Leon County Schools Facebook page, Superintendent Rocky Hanna personally apologized for the inconvenience. He said staff is working as hard as they can.

Leon County Schools spokesperson Chris Petley explained the delay, saying the new software had an issue that did not make routes available to administrators until Wednesday.

"The delay was in the computer program that failed us," said Petley. "We just didn't have the time to look at those until now, so we actually appreciate the parent feedback, because it draws to light some of the possible issues that we could look into."

95 percent of bus routes will stay the same, although the timing of some of those did change as well.

"3100 stops a day, you know that's a large chunk of folks. So we are working with them, and already we have changed some of the stops, I'm not saying we're going to do that or we can do that with everyone, but understand that we want to work with you," said Petley.

One major change involves courtesy stops, which are any stops within a two mile radius of a school. Elementary school students will still have courtesy stops, which the new computer system did not show.

However, courtesy stops for middle and high school students will no longer be available.

"There used to be some stops; we had 1100 of these stops in the past, and they're all unfunded by the state of Florida. We have done the best job we can in communicating that," said Petley.

Petley said the school district has communicated the upcoming changes since November of 2018.

Parents aren't the only ones concerned about the changes. Bus drivers said during a contract negotiation meeting on Monday they were concerned about the late notice of the new bus routes, since it takes time to get used to the changes.

Under the new routing system, drivers will most likely have a different route in the afternoon as they do in the mornings. Previously, the same school buses picked up and dropped off at the same places in the mornings and afternoons.

The call center will be open Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. all next week.

The number for the center is 850-488-2636, or you can e-mail any questions to communityinfo@leonschools.net.