Thousands of hours in the classroom lost because of late school buses


Traffic problems across the Lowcountry are nothing new to those of us who drive every day but traffic also causes problems beyond the roads.

In the Charleston County School District, traffic is the number one reason your child isn't in the classroom.

"When it came to the traffic when I was riding on the buses, I'd get to the bus stop at 7:30, 8 o'clock, bus wouldn't get there until 10 o'clock," said Asher Patterson.

Patterson just graduated from R.B. Stall High School, the same school that, according to a CCSD report, lost the most amount of instructional time due to late school buses.

"Within a week, I'd say I lost about half the time," said Patterson.

Patterson said traffic back up and accidents were the biggest reason his bus would run late.

11,556 hours of classroom time was lost last in the Charleston County School district because of school buses running late. R.B.

Stall made up over 2,000 of those missed classroom hours.

The average missed instructional time per bus rider was a little over 30 minutes for the entire school year, but some schools missed more than others.

"11,500 hours sound like a lot of hours and our goal is zero," CCSD Operating Officer Jeff Borowy said. "We don't want any kid to miss an hour of school, but based on the number of kids that ride buses, we have nearly 3 million of hours in class for those same children."

The biggest cause of the lost time was traffic at 64.9 percent, the next biggest cause was lack of a driver at 20.5 percent, followed by the bus breaking down at 7.1 percent.

Other causes included natural causes such as flooding (0.4 percent), a student behavior issue (0.5 percent), a substitute driver (4.3 percent) and tier one unloading (2.3 percent).

Roughly 50,000 students are enrolled in the Charleston County School District with roughly half of the students riding the bus.

Borowy said the district takes a look at any school bus slowdown to see if a different route could be a possibility, and also look to see if they can add a bus or two.

According to the data from CCSD, late bus times went down after October.

After looking at other districts in the Lowcountry and the state, many districts don't keep track of how often buses are late, but said they experience similar reasons for late buses.

The South Carolina Department of Education also said they don't track school hours missed due to late buses on a state level.

"I don't know how we compare, but I suspect on the nationwide challenge of having a number of bus drivers we're pretty good," said Borowy.

CCSD is the second largest district in the state and have a 98% on time rate, according to Borowy.

Greenville County Schools is the largest district in the state, their buses have a 94% on time rate, according to Greenville County Schools officials.

Moving forward, Borowy says next school year students should be spending more time in class instead of trying to get there.

"We now have a staff that has the ability to take a closer look at the data and I would say the changes we've made in the last year will lead to a better start in the fall right off the bat," said Borowy.

Berkeley County School District officials said starting this year they're going to consistently log transportation data.

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