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Pasco school board votes to change bell times to deal with bus driver shortage

Pasco County School Bus
Posted at 6:05 AM, Nov 02, 2021

LAND O'LAKES, Fla. — Dustin Alsey has three kids in the Pasco County school district and says adjusting when they start and finish school could cause major issues for his family.

“It could my wife having to quit her teaching job. I don’t want that to happen. But if our children don’t have anywhere to go or if the place that we have to go would end up reducing her salary to such a point that it doesn’t make any sense for her to work,” said Alsey.

It’s those concerns and more that the school district weighed leading up to Tuesday's vote to change the bell schedule. The district viewed it as a last ditch effort to deal with the bus driver shortage.

The district said they are short nearly 90 drivers, leading to thousands of students showing up late for school, even missing all of first period. Other students are stuck with long waits, and crowded buses.

PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Pasco County Schools announces proposed changes to bell times district-wide

The changes approved by the school district will start in January. Some schools will only have slight changes, but others will start more than an hour earlier.

“There’s nobody in this district that likes this plan including the superintendent. I don’t like it. I don’t like anything about it. But I will tell you I equally, probably more so dislike having kids miss instructional time before great teachers we have in this district,” said superintendent Kurt Browning.

Bus driver shortages are an issue all over the country. But many parents tell us the changes will lead to hardships.

“I think there are a lot of other options out there that I don’t think they’ve fully explored. It’s going to put an unnecessary burden on many working parents,” said Alsey.

The superintendent said they looked at all kinds of options no matter how silly they might have seemed. But in the end he says a desperate situation led to the schedule changes.