Bus driver shortage forces changes in Murfreesboro City Schools

Students at three elementary schools are affected by the policy change.
Published: Jul. 27, 2023 at 8:30 PM CDT|Updated: Jul. 28, 2023 at 8:28 AM CDT
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MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (WSMV) - A bus driver shortage is forcing big changes for some Murfreesboro City Schools.

Many elementary students are now forced to walk more than a mile to school while others will start school at a completely different time this fall.

School officials said the changes make bus routes more efficient since they do not have enough bus drivers to serve every Murfreesboro City Schools student. To do this, they increased the parent responsibility zone for three schools from 0.5 miles to 0.75 miles to reduce the number of students who can ride the bus.

A total of around 85 students at Scales Elementary, Salem Elementary, and Overall Creek Elementary will need to walk or find their own transportation when classes begin in August. Cason Lane Academy pushed back its start time by one hour so all bus routes can still run.

Chris Hayes is one of the parents now scrambling to find a new way to get his 2nd-grade daughter to school after relying on the bus for the past two years. He said the road she would have to walk along is too busy and dangerous for his comfort level and is adjusting his work schedule so he can drive her instead.

“There are a lot of accidents that happen here,” Hayes said. “There’s a lot of mailboxes that are destroyed by people crashing or not paying attention. That is just not feasible as a parent to let an elementary school child walk to a school.”

Hayes said he is concerned for many of his neighbors who can’t drive their children because of their work hours. They are currently trying to create a carpooling system to fill the gaps once school starts.

Murfreesboro City Schools said the new 0.75-mile radius from schools is still well below the 1.5-mile maximum under state law. They are also helping parents with before and after-school programs if they are not able to provide their own transportation for students.