SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – In the midst of the back-to-school blitz, the Savannah-Chatham County Public School System saw a surge in car riders on the first day of school.
“The only concern we have had is about, of course, as we all know, transportation,” said Southwest Middle School Principal Sonji Leach.
SCCPSS Superintendent Dr. Ann Levett admits there were some first-day issues but said overall, it went smooth for most students.
“We have concerns about transportation, but we’ve been able to transport more students than we thought originally,” Levett said.
A decrease in bus drivers created an increase in students needing to be picked up by car.
“The biggest change is the fact that we don’t have enough drivers for us to have a full route,” Leach said. “Yesterday was different because we are not used to having so many car riders.”
Lucy and Colt Seager live seven minutes from Godley Station School, where their kids are students. They said it took them an hour to get home on the first day.
“It made me frustrated and angry,” Lucy Seager said. “I’m just like sitting in this traffic line, can’t figure out for the life of me what is going on and why is this happening because this should have been planned out for a year in advance already.”
The Seager’s said their kids asked to be picked up from school because their bus was delayed. By the time Lucy got to the school, it was 6:00pm – nearly two hours after pickup time.
“[My son was] panicking, he’s scared, basically he thought everybody left him because the bus wasn’t there,” Lucy said. “The traffic was horrendous, it was backed up on all sides. You could see cars for miles.”
It’s an influx the school was not expecting.
“We didn’t realize the numbers were going to be so huge, so we have to make sure that we will have a safe place for the students instead of them waiting out front,” said Leach.
Leach stated, “Once a county officer came, things flowed very smoothly.”
The change in bus transportation caused a backup in traffic around many schools in the area on the first day of school.
Dottie Youman picks up her grandchildren from West Chatham in Pooler. After waiting in the carpool line for over three hours on the first day, she arrived two hours before pickup for the second day.
“Something’s got to be done,” Youman said. “I don’t know if maybe they put like grades one through three at a different time and then four and five at another time or what. But they need to do something.”
The Seager’s said in the 10 years they have had kids in school, the traffic situation has never been this bad.
“They’ve got a lot to work on this year because I personally just don’t see this getting any better as long as you’re having all these parents go into the school at the same time,” Colt Seager said.
Superintendent Levett said she believes things will get smoother in the coming days as more drivers are hired. SCCPSS is also making adjustments in schedules and routes over the coming days and weeks, a spokesperson told News 3.