Bus Driver Shortage Causes Headaches for Parents as Schools Schedules Shift 

Several parents at Catoctin Elementary School recently learned their children’s bus pick up time had changed dramatically for the 2022-2023 school year. 

The parents said they were confused when they checked Parentvue—Loudoun County Public Schools’s parent portal that houses student information like class schedule and bus information—on Monday and saw their children were scheduled to be picked up before 6:30 a.m. 

In January, the school division announced staggered start times for the 2022-2022 school year to address the bus driver shortage in the county. Twenty-nine schools would start at 7:30 a.m. and dismiss at 2:15 p.m., a difference of 20-25 minutes from the previous school year, according to the division.

Additionally, 30 other elementary schools were changed to start and end 10 minutes later, and 12 middle schools and 17 high schools start and end times were also adjusted.

Kate Furletti, the parent of a fourth grader at Catoctin Elementary said she understands the reason for the staggered start times and expected an earlier pick-up time, but she didn’t expect to see one before 6:30 a.m. when she lives minutes from the school. 

“I was in shock when I saw 6:27 a.m. because that is incredibly early for these kids. We live four minutes from the school, it shouldn’t take that long,” said Furletti.

“My daughter is getting picked up 43 min before the school doors open and getting dropped off 43 min after school ends. I know she was home last year 5-7 minutes after school got out. I can’t even fathom the timing this year,” she said.

The only reason she can think of for the time difference this year, she said, is that the schools are possibly padding it to allow for extra time.

“That’s asking kids to get up awful early to get ready and get on the bus,” she said.

Furletti pointed out that school doors don’t open until, 7:10 a.m. and wanted to know if the kids on the bus would be sitting on it until they were allowed to go in the school.

Equally frustrating and confusing is her daughter’s afternoon drop off time. Furletti said her daughter is getting home about 43 minutes after school ends, meaning she is likely on the second bus run. But Furletti wants to know why kids who are getting on the bus earlier in the morning are getting home later in the afternoon.

“That makes the day longer for them,” she said.

She believes the schedule should shift so that the kids who catch the bus the earliest also get home sooner.

“Did anyone ask how this affects the kids? It doesn’t make sense,” Furletti said. 

“I know they announced this ahead of time, but I’m still struggling with fact that we live in the wealthiest county in the U.S., and we don’t have enough bus drivers. Our county’s school budget is enough that they can allocate more resources. The fact that they had to stagger the start times is a cop out instead of solving the problem,” she said.

Other Catoctin Elementary School parents expressed concern how the early bus pick up time might lead more parents to drive their kids to school, which could lead to greater congestion and backups for other commuters. Catoctin Elementary School doesn’t have as big of a drop-off area as other schools, and the drop-off and pick-up lines could cause traffic problems for people getting around town, they said. 

Parents said the early time change is going to completely change up their morning routine, and worry tired kids might lead to meltdowns during the day. 

Furletti said she has reached out to other parents on the school’s PTA Facebook page to learn of other pick-up times and said so far, her daughter’s is the earliest pick-up and latest drop-off.  She said she loves Catoctin Elementary and knows the issue doesn’t lie with them. She said she has reached out to the schools Transportation Division but hasn’t heard anything back.

“We need to have someone from the School Board or the administration come out and see how this affects us. Our complaints don’t seem to be doing anything,” Furletti said. 

“I know we can’t change the school start times this year, but picking up so early and then those same kids being the last to get dropped off needs to change,” she added.

The school division noted on its website that the earlier start times mean students could be walking to the bus stop or school in the dark during the winter months. The school division said it will coordinate with the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office, which oversees crossing guards during the winter, to make sure students who walk to school are safe. 

4 thoughts on “Bus Driver Shortage Causes Headaches for Parents as Schools Schedules Shift 

  • 2022-08-18 at 2:51 pm
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    Kate Furletti makes great points. I’m impressed with how she advocates like a tigress for her child. It’s ridiculous to have them get up so early in the morning & return home so late in the afternoon. Perhaps it would be different if they were being taught throughout that time period. But they won’t be. I hope LCPS can remedy the situation. Welcome Back to School Students!

  • 2022-08-18 at 3:58 pm
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    Once again, gross incompetence by LCPS. They have poor management which leads to high turnover. They paid below market wages for years because corrupt school board members wanted to funnel all the money to their spouses and children who work as LCPS teachers. Ask a teacher, will you give up $400 (~10-15% of JUST YOUR RAISE THIS YEAR) so kids don’t have to sit on buses for 1 hr 45 min each day wasting their time? I guarantee you not a single lazy, greedy teacher will say yes. In fact, they demanded they work 10 FEWER instructional days this year to satisfy their aversion to work.

    Fire the entire SB and senior management along with any middle manager with high turnover. Problem solved.

  • 2022-08-19 at 10:53 am
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    Public schools are terrible. The answer is to get your kids out of a failing system.

  • 2022-08-19 at 2:32 pm
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    As I have said before, pay the bus drivers more and you will not have a shortage of drivers.

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