HOPATCONG - The Hopatcong Borough School District is in the process of troubleshooting several bus routes after parents reached out to Superintendent Art Di Benedetto with issues experienced with bus delays, buses breaking down, mechanics subbing as drivers and other situations.
“I'm very happy that they (the parents) contacted us,” DiBenedetto said Friday.
DiBenedetto said during the coming week, the district will be assessing its bus routes, which some have been running late due to the district's dismissal times. Two routes will be combined, DiBenedetto said; and if the issue with the routes is still not resolved after the routes are combined, a new bus route will be added.
DiBenedetto said some of the issues parents reported were attributed to district's reconfiguration following the closure of the Hudson Maxim School. Additionally, there were personnel issues within the Byram Bus Line - the company contracted to handle Hopatcong's bus routes.
Several parents spoke to the New Jersey Herald about the issues, including Jennifer Johnson, a Hopatcong resident - who is also a Hopatcong Borough Council candidate - with two children enrolled in school in the district.
Johnson said Wednesday she sent an email to DiBenedetto on Sept. 10 about issues with the buses on the first day of school on Sept. 6. Johnson described DiBenedetto as “extraordinarily responsive” to her inquiry.
Johnson said one driver did not pick up students at the Durban Avenue School and after returning to retrieve the students, told Johnson and other parents that he was not a bus driver, but mechanic for the company - and that two drivers had quit that morning.
Johnson also said she learned of buses breaking down and students released early from school to accommodate the bus routes.
DiBenedetto said he communicated with the bus company and has since learned a number of new drivers had been hired since several quit at the start of the school year; and confirmed a few of the company's mechanics had briefly substituted as bus drivers during the transition.
Jennifer Jean Miller can also be reached by phone at: 973-383-1230; and on Facebook: www.Facebook.com/JMillerNJH.