SMYTH COUNTY, Va. - The first day of school can be hectic with students getting used to their new teachers and classes. In Smyth County, Virginia new bus routes and a new school had some kids not getting home until 5:30.
This school year brings a new school for Smyth County Schools and with that comes new school bus routes, and a delay for some kids getting to and from school. "We had no idea that the kids were going to be that late coming home," says parent Theresa Cunningham.
Cunningham has two kids in the Smyth County school system. She tells us her kids got home around 4:20 -- that's 30 minutes later than last year.
She considers that early compared to the time other students got home. "[A friend's] son didn't get home until almost 5:30 Thursday night. He's 10 so I would have been hysterical," adds Cunningham.
Superintendent Mike Robinson tells us they are aware of the problem and have been working all night and day to fix it. "Friday morning most of our routes came in 10 to -15 minutes earlier than they did Thursday," says Robinson.
Robinson says a new school and new bus routes were a part of the problem. He tells us they're looking at several options to fix it. "We went down streets that we didn't pick up kids. We called the parents and said, "Is your kid going to ride the bus?" If they say no, then we don't go down that road anymore, so we pick up time," adds Robinson.
Robinson says they have 42 new bus routes this year and they are looking at modifying routes to fix the problem. "It may mean that we have to add an additional bus to help with coordination. We're studying all the different ways that we might be able to do it," says Robinson.
Cunningham tells us another problem parents had was contacting the school system to ask where their children where. We learned the communication problem was because of the new phone system because it turned on the automatic voice mail but it's also been fixed. "Parents that call the school asking where that bus route is, we may not be able to tell them exactly where it is but that it left around this time and is headed that way," says Robinson.
Robinson also told us on the first day many parents want to take pictures when their kids get on the bus and have questions they want to ask the drivers, and that added to some of the delays.