Here are some new updates on the Wake County school bus transportation problems.
Wake Schools Superintendent Tony Tata has announced he'll hold a 3 p.m. press conference today "to discuss the return of traditional-calendar schools and answer questions on transportation services."
Also today, Progress NC Action is blaming Wake's transportation issues on "budget cuts by our state lawmakers." The liberal advocacy group has largely stayed out of Wake school issues since going after Heather Losurdo in last fall's school board elections.
Here's the group's press release:
NC State Budget The Root Cause Of Wake School Bus Debacle
State lawmakers who cut school budget deserve blame in Wake School bus debacle
WAKE COUNTY - Parents across Wake County are furious this morning after the first-day-of-school chaos created by Wake County school buses. There were long rides and huge delays, and some buses never showed up. Some parents resorted to calling police after their children did not make it home hours after the school day ended. The confusion is well-documented, but the causes less so.
Part of the blame lies at the feet of state lawmakers who cut the public school budget, forcing counties like Wake to make cuts. One way Wake County Schools made ends meet - without cutting teachers - was to cut the number of school buses. Wake County has 53 fewer school buses operating this year, despite having more students than last year.
"Wake County's school bus debacle is a clear result of budget cuts by our state lawmakers," said Gerrick Brenner, Executive Director of Progress NC Action. "Wake County Schools have 4,000 more children this year, less money, and 53 fewer buses. When lawmakers keep cutting school budgets, we start to see massive breakdown like the bus routes on Monday. Our state lawmakers need to be held accountable for this mess."
Wake County lawmakers who voted for this year's state budget - which included a $190 million cut to public schools - are Rep. Marilyn Avila, Rep. Nelson Dollar, Rep. Tom Murry, Rep. Paul Stam, Sen. Neal Hunt and Sen. Richard Stevens.
I'll get into it more in the morning, but the upshot of today's press conference is that Tata says he's added four more buses to improve service.
Tata says he'll add more if needed but thinks they're pretty close to having the right number. This means that Wake has 48 instead of 52 fewer buses on the road than last year. (The number of 53 mentioned Monday was off by one.)
Tata says they're monitoring the situation and that it's getting better each day.