Randolph Board of Education working on issues with buses

ELKINS — Issues with delayed bus runs sparked discussion with county officials at the Randolph County Board of Education regular meeting Tuesday evening.

Superintendent Gabe Devono said issues related to the transportation department are being resolved by the school system, noting available drivers are working hard and six additional drivers will undergo training next week.

“Our drivers are doing extremely well,” Devono said. “We even had one driver do more than four runs, and there were no complaints from that driver. They’re doing an exceptional job.”

He added mechanics are currently helping to complete routes this week due to drivers being “out” due to illnesses and other reasons.

“With the mechanics, the three we have at the bus garage, they can drive, too,” he said. “So, I informed the head mechanic today that, if it comes down to an emergency, that we will send those three out on a bus if necessary.”

Amanda Smith, board president, said she is thankful that former drivers are willing to help with routes when needed.

“It’s sad to be that limited in personnel,” she added. “It used to be that to be a bus driver was a great position to have. A lot of independent businessmen were bus drivers. My grandfather and my uncles were bus drivers and they all had independent business, so they could make the runs in the mornings, work their businesses during the day and make the runs in the afternoons. It was really a great opportunity.”

“We have had several of our employees who used to be bus drivers, that are now working in other areas, come in and say they would help the county out and get re-certified,” Devono added.

Devono also noted during the meeting that the county’s first transportation priority is to get students to and from school.

“We have looked ahead and the agenda for bus trips coming up, and we cannot accommodate the coaches who are requesting to leave at 1:30 in the afternoon to go on away trips. … There are four or five trips that we cannot even take because we can’t put drivers out and have them back in time to do their regular runs,” he said.

Devono went on to say that coaches and principals will be notified and adjustments will be made so that athletic teams are able to make their trips.

“Ultimately, we have to get the buses back in time to do their regular runs,” he said. “My first priority is to get the kids home, so that’s what we’re going to do.”

The board of education’s next regular meeting will be at 5:30 p.m. on Sept. 18 at the county office.