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Concerns continue over new school bus system in Rapides Parish

Published: Aug. 10, 2021 at 5:59 PM CDT
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RAPIDES PARISH, La. (KALB) - Buses are still a confusing and frustrating topic for some parents with the Rapides Parish School Board implementing a new routing system this school year. Getting the program up and running and getting bus drivers familiar with it was only started just weeks before the start of school.

“I know we have some issues out there,” said Jeff Powell, the superintendent of Rapides Parish schools. “It’s going to take a few days to get all the kinks worked out. It’s a brand-new routing software. They realize it’s not talking well with our student information system: Power School.”

Sidney Smith, who’s a local parent, is one of many who’s having issues with the changes. His daughters have been riding the bus to Tioga Elementary School for four years now, but this year, he’s been told that his daughters, who are 10 and 12 years old, fall under the walk zone criteria.

“Even though my kids are listed as bus riders in Power School, that they’re not listed as bus riders on the new system,” Smith said. “They weren’t put on anybody’s route nor were any of the kids on my road.”

Superintendent Powell says the transportation department is working on issues with Power School.

“They’re working through those glitches. It’s in no way, shape or form perfect,” he said.

Smith says that, luckily, he was able to bring his younger daughter to her first day of school. But, what about the coming days? He says he’s been trying to get his questions answered, but feels like he’s still left in the dark.

“It felt like there was no sympathy for the issue at all,” he said. “I mean nobody took into consideration how this is going to make other people feel. What I don’t understand, why would you wait so late in the year to do it? You could have started in May to do this, and you could have worked out all the bugs.”

Smith’s biggest issue with being told that his children will need to walk to school has to do with safety.

“There are 15 registered sex offenders in my neighborhood, but you tell me it’s okay for my daughters to walk from my house to that school?” Smith said in a Facebook video, showcasing the path his kids would have to walk. “This road has no sidewalks, whatsoever. And this is a busy two-lane where nobody ever does the speed limit.”

As the school board’s transportation department continues to work out the new system, Smith said he’ll continue to do what he can to get answers.

“It’s a tore up situation. It really is,” he said.

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