NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) - Some frustrated Metro bus drivers came to News4 concerned about how late students are getting home from school and they want parents to know it’s not their fault.
A News4 I-Team investigation found out why it's taking so long to get some students home from school and how in some cases parents aren't being notified.
“It's not the driver’s fault. We have to do what we're told to do,” said one driver who we agreed not to identify.
Every day, Sean Root panics as he waits for his daughter at the bus stop.
“Are you on the bus? Where's the bus? No, the bus isn't even here yet,” said Root’s eighth grade daughter Maggie who attends Croft Middle School.
Text messages from his daughter saying she doesn’t know when she’ll be home doesn’t make it any better, he said.
With traffic, it should take her 15 to 20 minutes to get home. When she finally shows up 45 minutes after school lets out she runs off the bus frantic and confused.
Root asked her, “So that wasn't your bus driver? No,” said Maggie.
Root said this is constantly a problem.
The News4 I-Team wanted to find out just how often buses are late.
The bell rings at Croft Middle School at 3:55. The day News4 went to the school, Maggie’s bus left 45 minutes after school ended.
“The latest she's gotten home is 5:35,” said Root.
“It’s basically kind of a flip of a coin. Are they going to be there or are they not?” said Maggie.
Documents obtained by the News4 I-Team showed this isn't just a problem at Croft Middle School, but throughout the district.
The I-Team requested one month’s worth of data.
While most of the time buses run on schedule, the I-Team found several cases of them running late.
The most up-to-date information the I-Team obtained was from February.
One morning a bus didn't arrive at Antioch High School until 7:26. School starts at 7:15.
On Feb. 28, two buses didn't get to DuPont Middle School until almost 9:30 a.m. School begins at 8:55 a.m.
"We've got to do what dispatch or the district tells us to do,” a Metro bus driver told the News4 I-Team.
Bus drivers said they're doubling up, even sometimes tripling up, on routes.
“As the days have gone on, it has become worse and bus drivers are quitting right and left,” said another driver.
According to Metro Schools, at the start of the school year in August, there were 391 bus drivers. As the school year ends, there are 372 drivers.
Ken Stark, who oversees the transportation department with Metro Schools, said currently the system is down more than 50 drivers.
“Not having them is really tough,” said Stark.
Parents said there are some days where their kids aren't home until 5 or 5:30 in the evening.
“It’s certainly later than I would prefer,” said Stark.
Bus drivers told the I-Team it all comes down to money and they haven’t received a raise in two years.
Starting pay for a Metro Schools bus driver is around $14 an hour.
How does that stack up to cities of similar size?
In Raleigh, NC, drivers make less, starting at $13 an hour. In Charlotte, NC, they make $15 an hour and in Denver starting pay is more than $19 an hour.
Parents said something must change before next school year and before the district loses any more drivers.
It's been two years since Metro Schools bus drivers have received a raise.
Stark said they keep asking for raises and he’s hopeful Metro Council will fund them in a way that allows them to get the raises he said bus drivers deserve.
Metro Schools is currently hiring and desperately needs drivers. You can click here to apply.
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