Some Wake County buses ran late Monday, but school officials said most students got to and from school on time in what is being described as a smooth first day of classes.
Wake’s estimated 159,000 students are adjusting to new bus routes and 3,000 fewer stops as the school system put 65 fewer buses on the road than last school year.
School officials said bus service went well Monday, but there were some issues at the new South Garner High School and also for students who live near the east Raleigh neighborhood where a police-officer-involved shooting occurred.
“The kids got on the buses without incident,” said Lisa Luten, a Wake schools spokeswoman. “We had a very smooth end of the day.”
A Raleigh police officer was wounded by a gunshot and another man was shot and killed at a house on Donald Ross Drive late Monday morning. Luten said police road closures affected afternoon bus service for some students in the area.
At South Garner High, traffic patterns caused a jam that delayed buses Monday afternoon.
The school, which officially opened to students for the first time Monday, is the temporary site for Garner High School students and staff while their old campus undergoes a $73.7 million renovation.
About 17 Garner High buses ran late to drop off students – some by as much as 35 minutes. Luten said buses that started at Garner High’s ninth-grade center across town were delayed when they encountered carpool traffic, student drivers and buses leaving South Garner.
The traffic woes at South Garner High also caused a delay for schools like Aversboro and Rand Road elementary schools, which are also served by Garner High School buses.
Luten said school transportation officials planned to meet Monday evening to develop a new traffic plan to use Tuesday around South Garner High.
On Tuesday, Garner High principal Carter Hillman said traffic leaving the school was better. The school opened up two lanes for traffic to flow and pick up students. Cars were also redirected to leave the school from a different exit than where they were entering.
There were no reported delays Tuesday.
Hillman said he expects traffic to continue to get better.
“It’s just a lot of cars and just trying to get used to it,” Hillman said. “That takes a little longer on their first day than it does after you’re in a pattern.”
Overall low complaints
Wake reported that only 11 of the 760 buses arrived 10 minutes or more late to school Monday morning. But there were some complaints on social media about the morning bus service.
“Buses were disastrous today,” tweeted Julie Walker, a Wake County parent. “Thanks @WCPSS for taking 65 buses off the road!”
School officials reminded families to be patient because it takes some time for bus routes to settle during the first few weeks of school.
But overall, complaints on Monday morning were running below the levels raised during the start of the 2012-13 school year, when thousands of students dealt with buses that came late, or not at all.
Angela Smelcer, an Apex Elementary parent who experienced the 2012 bus problems, was in a happier mood Monday.
“Morning she came right on time, and afternoon as well,” Smelcer wrote in an email, referring to her children’s bus driver. “Our route changed from bus route 5 to bus route 3, and seems to be ok today.”