3 school bus routes unfilled

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Two bus routes servicing Murray County High School and one servicing MCHS and Gladden Middle School were non-operational on Tuesday, as students returned to Murray County Schools.

How many students were affected was unclear at press time.

Superintendent Steve Loughridge warned the school board on Thursday that three routes would be down. He said despite extensive efforts to find qualified drivers, the system was unable to man three routes.

Board member Sparky Roberts asked if the lack of bus service could cause a legal problem for the system.

“We are not legally required to provide transportation,” Loughridge replied.

However, the superintendent made it clear he wants to provide full bus service to students.

Loughridge pointed out that not anyone can drive a school bus. The state requires training, including experience riding with a qualified driver.  He said that 8-9 people are currently being trained but even if they all take jobs with the school system, there will still be unfilled routes.

Complicating matters, Loughridge said, was the fact that it’s not clear until after school starts which and how many kids would be using the bus service.

“We change routes every year,” Loughridge said. “After we see who is riding the bus, we may able to consolidate some routes.”

Loughridge said some bus drivers who have worked for the county schools in the past have decided not to drive this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The system operates 84 bus routes.

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