Following reported problems that involve the Hillsborough Township Public School District’s busing services, district administrators said they plan to address the matter.
Acting Superintendent of Schools Lisa M. Antunes commented on recent reports of school buses that are chronically late on their routes. She said part of the reason for the problem is that school bus companies that provide service to the district “are facing a major shortage of drivers.”
Antunes said in a statement that since the issue arose at the beginning of the 2019-20 school year, administrators have been working to correct the problem.
“The district has been working diligently and feverishly to ascertain the most seamless remedy to relieve the tardiness of identified bus routes to and from school each day,” she said.
Antunes explained that Board of Education members approved a lease for three 54-passenger school buses at its Jan. 6 meeting as a means of addressing the issue.
“The buses will be run in-house as opposed to buses run by outside contractors and that will allow us to hire our own part-time drivers and have full control over an increased number of routes.
“The district actually realized a cost savings with this lease-purchase. This enables the district to run several additional routes in a timely manner while possibly providing efficiencies for our vo-tech routes,” Antunes said.
The purchase price for the three buses will not exceed $264,866 as administrators said the board intends to finance the purchase through a tax-exempt lease.
Although the board’s action serves as a potential solution to the problem of buses running late, Antunes said the situation is something other school districts are also dealing with.
“Unfortunately, Hillsborough is experiencing what many other school districts are facing,” she said. “Contractors are experiencing a major shortage of drivers, thereby rendering them incapable of meeting their contractual obligations or from bidding on certain routes.
“We will continue to impose fines on contractors who do not meet their obligations and fulfill their contract commitments. We appreciate the patience and understanding of the community as we continue to work with our transportation department in closely monitoring our busing situation district-wide,” Antunes said.