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Baltimore County parents sound off about school transportation issues

Posted: 5:35 AM, Oct 31, 2018
Updated: 2018-10-31 16:18:37Z

Baltimore County parents are sounding off about transportation issues.  From late picks ups and drop offs to speeding buses and overcrowding; the list goes on and on.

WMAR 2 News is working for the future and talked to some of the frustrated parents.

"Their lack of willingness to talk to parents and lack of willingness to understand and be sensitive to parents’ needs," said Baltimore County parent, Sharon Saroff.

More than 100 complaints since the beginning of the school year , many documented in a Facebook group filled with parent gripes. 
    
"The bus driver has dropped kids off at the wrong bus stop and these were kindergarters," parent, Keia Butts, told WMAR 2 News.

"I've seen the bus speeding some and you just never know.  The bus has been late a lot of times," she continued.

"One of the things that has concerned me is the safety of the bus drivers and the buses," Butts said.

Parents said they're concerned about late pick ups and drop offs, safety concerns, and what they feel is a lack of communication between them and the school system.

"It’s frustrating for me to have to walk to the bus stop with my son, wait for the bus and the bus doesn’t show up or it’s late and then i’m late for work as well," Butts said.

 Dayana Bergman has three kids in Baltimore County schools one with special needs.  She told WMAR 2 News that  a cab recently arrived at her home to pick her son up.  It is part of school's policy to have outside transportation but typically that plan is discussed in advance.

"We never discussed any transition plan to any other location outside your home we’ve never even discussed anything regarding transportation in any form or way," said Bergman.
    
She says the incident really scared her son.

But despite how parents feel,  transportation complaints are down 30 percent since the school year started according to Baltimore County School officials.  With 850 buses that travel over 73,000 miles, problems are bound to happen.   Baltimore County Councilwoman Cathy Bevins, who's up for re-election in November, says the school system needs to be more proactive.
    
"We have issues with buses being late, being picked up early, being picked up late.  There’s no consistency since the beginning of school. It’s budget, the school system has to tell us what they need and they need to up their game.  They need to ask for more money," Bevins continued.

"The county’s in charge of these things, they need to be more open and receptive to hearing from parents so we can problem solve together," said Saroff.

Baltimore County schools says it fields every concern through its Transportation Department and all complaints are reviewed.

For perspective,  we checked on the transportation budgets for neighboring counties, Howard and Harford for fiscal year 2019.

Harford County comes in at more than $32,000,000 million dollars.

Howard County has more than $41,000,000 million dollars.

Baltimore County comes in far ahead with close to $78.5 million dollars and its transportation budget has gone up almost $14,000,000 million dollars since 2017.

Baltimore County parents and advocates said even with that kind of budget, the problems remain.    They're planning a transportation town hall November 2.  The hope is that the board will put transportation concerns higher on its agenda.