Manatee County school district parents are expressing frustration after weeks of experiencing lengthening delays with school bus pickup and drop-off times.

  • Parents reporting 30-45 minute delays
  • Superintendent: staff shortfalls, sick calls taking toll
  • School district working all year on solution

Parents we spoke to said that week after week their kids school bus pickup and drop-off times have been all over the place. Some even reported delays of 30 to 45 minutes to the school district over the last couple of weeks.

Superintendent Diana Greene confirmed that on Monday, Feb. 12, 40 bus divers called out sick. The next day, 36 bus drivers called out sick.

When that happens, bus drivers who are working have to pick up additional routes, resulting in delays. When the staff count is so low, Greene says they'll ask properly trained office staff to head out and take on routes.

"We've also put in place an attendance incentive to continue to support drivers to come to work everyday," Greene said.

The School District of Manatee County already started the school year more than two dozen drivers short. Now, with the uptick in sick calls, the problem is getting worse.

Greene says the district has been working all year to come up with a solution. She says they have come to a tentative agreement with bus drivers to increase their play, which was the first step.

The second part of the equation, according to Greene, relies on the results of next month's special election, which would raise property taxes by one million dollars.

With a growing number of students and three new schools opening in 2019, it's a race against the clock.

"If the referedum passes, you have that plus this tentiaitive agreement. That would put our drivers either equal or above other bus drivers in the region," Green explained.