Roanoke city school board grills bus contractor on delays, slow service

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ROANOKE, Va (WDBJ7)- After seven weeks of school, and seven weeks of school bus delays, many Roanoke City parents are frustrated.

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"We need to do what we have to do to make sure our children are taken care of," said one parent.

At Tuesday's school board meeting, parents said many buses operated by Durham school services are still running late. They also claim they're getting little to no warning when delays are expected, and that all that wasted time is having a negative impact on their kids.

Those frustrations were echoed by members of the Roanoke City School Board, including Lutheria Smith.

"I just don't think that's acceptable. And I'm certain you don't think that's acceptable. You certainly can't run a business that way," said Smith.

But according to John Ziegler, Durham School Services Vice President of Operations, the company is doing everything it can to hire new drivers.

"We're on Indeed, we're in the Roanoke Times, we're in the Tribune, we're one Facebook, you name it we're looking," he said.

Ziegler noted Durham has increased its hiring bonus, now up to $2,500 from just $500 several months ago. They've also implemented referral and retention bonuses.

But despite those efforts, Ziegler says the company is still short drivers. "We need to hire at least 30 more drivers to get us where we need to be," he said.

Complicating maters has been the loss of current drivers.
Ziegler says the company has hired 10 more drivers since the last Roanoke City School Board meeting, but it lost five others during that time as well.

Combined with the difficulty of finding and training more employees, Ziegler says it will probably be a long time before things are back to normal.

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