By Greg Phipps
---- — NEWBURYPORT — Superintendent Susan Viccaro notified parents Wednesday of changes to the bus routes to address and correct problems with the transportation.
Buses arriving late for pickups and stopping at the wrong locations, students arriving home hours late, and severe overcrowding were reportedly all part of last week’s chaotic first two days of school.
A number of parents and residents expressed their displeasure and concern to the School Committee at Tuesday’s meeting, calling for accountability and action from both the school district and Salter Transportation, which operates the school buses.
“To address the overcrowding at the middle school and the elementary levels, I have directed Salter to add a bus to the school routes,” said Viccaro, in her Wednesday message to the impacted parents.
“Salter will provide us with new routes that will incorporate the additional bus,” which was reportedly done yesterday.
At Tuesday’s meeting, Viccaro said Salter had informed her that ridership has increased by 96 students over the past two years. In her message, she said information about the route adjustments and the additional bus, as well as the date these new routes begin, will be sent to all affected students and parents.
Viccaro added that the school district plans “to make changes to the registration process” next year that will allow the schools to send timely information to Salter.
“The bus company will (then) create proposed routes and issue bus assignments with enough time for parents to contact the school district if there are concerns with their assigned pick-up and drop-off,” she said.
On Tuesday, the superintendent also proposed that, in the future, all bus drivers be required to train and familiarize themselves with their routes before the school year begins.
“I apologize again for the rocky transportation start to the school year,” Viccaro told parents Wednesday.