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'There are kids being left behind' | Parents express concerns over bus issues in Waterbury

The problems with how kids get to and from school was one of the main talking points at Thursday night's Board of Education meeting.

WATERBURY, Conn. — Long waits, late arrivals, no-shows, and dropping children off at the wrong stop are many of the problems parents and bus drivers in Waterbury expressed to the city’s Board of Education Thursday evening.

Districts all across the state have been dealing with big bus problems as the school year gets underway throughout Connecticut. Parents and drivers in Waterbury are fed up with what’s been happening. 

“It’s not much to ask that the administration make sure our children get home safely,” said Roxanne Bush.

RELATED: Waterbury school bus driver union says problems stem from route changes and cost-cutting measures

Parents and bus drivers in Waterbury are upset with the district, giving officials an “F” when it comes to the bus problems plaguing their lives.

“This is the worst that I have seen in my seven years,” said Waterbury bus driver, Victoria Encarnician. 

The problems with how kids get to and from school were one of the main talking points at Thursday night's Board of Education meeting.

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“I’m just here to let you know things are getting worse. It’s not getting better,” said Waterbury bus driver, Sonya Menez. 

“They were not dropped off at their after-school program. They were dropped off at the bottom alone and they were left to walk up East Main and Cherry all the way to their afterschool program alone,” said Bush. 

There have been 14 new bus routes added this year.

Officials with Durham Bus Company said the additions were made to help alleviate stress on staffing, with more students riding the bus.

RELATED: Waterbury parents concerns grow over school busing, highlighting disconnect with district administrators

“We’ve definitely seen an uptick of numbers in ridership. Hence, the uptick in routes we have running this year compared to last year,” said officials with Durham Bus Company.

Even with more routes, they’re still dealing with issues, according to drivers. 

“There are kids being left behind and we see them constantly. Also, the routes have been changed. Daily changes are being made on the routes.”

Drivers said that’s not all. They’re having trouble when it comes to getting new routes from the company.

“Every school year before the summer vacation they always asked us, do you want to keep your route or you want to change it? You had an option. This year we had no option,” said Menez.

“Or they’ll just say things like they are trying to make it easier for us, but it’s quite the opposite,” said Encarnician.

They said getting their original routes back will make things safer and easier for everyone.

“Being the driver that I was for 27 years and having this route, I have kids that were on my bus and now I am driving their kids. They know me, I know them. If you know your kids you don’t have to worry about nobody letting a kindergarten kid off because it's a fact that we know who their parents are and where they should go,” said Menez. 

Many bus drivers want to go back to the way things were, they said. 

“I had got a protest from different drivers, protesting that they would like to have their routes back,” said Menez.

What happens next, still remains unknown. 

“We apologize for everything, for the parents for anything that happened but we’re working hard to make sure that everything gets right,”  said officials with Durham Bus Company.

FOX 61 did ask the school's communication director for comment on these issues. She refused to comment. 

DeAndria Turner is a multi-media journalist at FOX61 News. She can be reached at dturner@fox61.com. 


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