NEW PORT RICHEY, Fla. — It’s the first day of the second semester for Pasco County Schools but parents say it’s like the first day of school all over again.
"I've already gotten three phone calls from the district about how this is going to be like the first day of school again," said parent Ashley Whittaker. "And all the changes, and why would you want to do that to the kids."
Whittaker’s kids won’t be starting school in the second semester until after 10 a.m., and won’t be home until well after 4 p.m., creating challenges for the family early in the morning and early in the evening.
“Both my kids play softball, and by them not even getting out of school until 4:20, that effects are whole schedule. We can barely get to softball on time, let alone feed them and get their homework done."
Whittaker is one of hundreds of parent impacted by school schedule shifts in Pasco due to a bus driver shortage the district has been unable to solve.
Since the start of school, Pasco County has been working to recruit bus drivers, but the ensuing shortage has caused kids to miss class time due to late buses.
To save the lost classroom time, Pasco Schools has shifted start and end times at some schools, allowing drivers to work multiple routes in a day, to multiple schools.
Superintendent Kurt Browning says the new schedule isn’t ideal, but it’s the districts only choice to bridge the gap of the shortage of around 60 bus drivers, an all-time high for Pasco Schools.
“There’s nobody in this district that likes this plan, including the superintendent," Browning said. "I don’t like it. I don’t like anything about it."