by Anum Valliani
MIDLAND COUNTY - Overcrowded schools, overcrowded halls, overcrowded buses, all of that is old news. But with unprecedented growth in outlying areas of the school district as well as major shortage of drivers, Midland ISD is figuring out how to accommodate for issues some parents have with transportation.
"First two or three weeks of school, it's a big puzzle," Midland ISD Superintendent, Dr. Ryder Warren, said.
But even with the learning curve, Tammy Stephens, a parent of four Midland ISD students, was furious. She had just dropped her 7th and 10th grade daughters to their bus stop at Henderson Park.
"I did not get five minutes away and they were calling me telling me the bus had told them that they were too full and left them standing out there," she said.
Concerned for their safety, she immediately turned back around. She says there were about twenty other kids left waiting there when she came to take them to school instead.
"I picked her up at eight o'clock and her school starts at 8:30, she would have been late," Stephens said.
Stephens is one of the parents who's discontent with the overcrowding in buses. Parents flooded our Facebook page to tell NewsWest 9 how their kids had been telling them they were being left behind or having to triple up on seats.
The MISD Superintendent says he talked to the transportation department for the past two mornings and he had no reports of anything unsafe or out of the ordinary.
"We had to track down a couple of junior high kids who got delivered to elementaries because they got on the wrong bus. But that's first of school stuff, that's parents getting used to which bus to get on to, that's bus drivers getting used to new routes, just stuff like that," Warren said.
He said if there are issues where the bus is too full, the transportation department is quick to make adjustments.
"They also have to give a report as they're going. Hey I'm leaving, I can't take anymore. We have to go to plan B, C, D, E," he explained.
The MISD Transportation Director, Tarleton Willie, said they have a policy in place where some routes are assigned two buses. If there is still over-crowding, a back-up bus is dispatched.
The route at Henderson park is one of those. One bus leaves at a quarter past seven while the other leaves nearly an hour later.
"We have duplicate routes because we don't allow elementary kids to ride with high school kids or secondary kids. I think that's just important to not have your babies with your 16, 17, 18 year-olds," he said.
He also said they have a screen that tells them where every single kid resides, which they use to construct routes.
"I don't know if we'll be able to add a route just because of the lack of drivers but we'll definitely change routes to make sure that we can get all the kids on safely," Warren said.