SAN TAN VALLEY, AZ - A San Tan Valley mother is concerned after her daughter took video of her sitting on another student’s lap while riding in what they allege is an overcrowded bus.
“I thought it was absolutely ridiculous,” said Tina Hall after seeing the video her daughter sent her on Thursday. “There’s maybe about 50 kids on one bus.”
Boston Buttes High School student Makyla Benton says kids were siting on top of each other to make room. She says there were at least 3 other kids squished on top of other students and each seat had three kids or more in them.
“If anything like happened, I’d probably go flying and hit somebody,” she said. “It’s just too crowded, complete chaos for a bus."
Hall says overcrowding is leading to bigger issues, such as delays and long wait times for school buses, as there just isn’t enough room for students.
Makyla says there have been times where she was almost late to class in the morning because the buses were busy picking up so many other students.
“We don’t have enough bus drivers and kids are getting to school like late,” Makyla said.
On Friday, she took more video in which she alleges kids are waiting in lines because the buses were already full. You can hear students ask each other questions about where their buses are.
“I don’t blame the school, I just wish they would put it out there that they need help,” Hall said.
ABC15 reached out to the school about the issue and they sent the following statement:
"The Florence Unified School District is being impacted by the nation-wide bus driver shortage along with many surrounding districts. We always put the safety of our students first and are actively looking for more bus drivers. We follow our state laws and work to safely transport all of our students to and from school. Buses have a maximum capacity of 84 students and no route currently reaches that capacity. To help us alleviate the shortage we are requesting an 8% maintenance and operation funding override from our local community to help increase salaries for our employees. If any parents or community members need more information or would like to help us by becoming a bus driver, please call us at 520-866-3500."
Richard Franco, the director of public relations for the district says they had not received any calls from parents complaining about overcrowding and encouraged parents to reach out to address any problems.
He said the district is keen on working with parents to ensure student safety. He added, unfortunately, their district is dealing with a reality many districts are dealing with: Not having enough drivers, but there are no issues of overcrowding that they are aware of.
Currently, the district has about 60 buses, each bus can hold up to 84 kids. He says the buses are never filled by more than 60 kids.
Driving into San Tan Valley, you can see a large billboard, with a school bus next to it advertising for more drivers. Offering paid training and full and part time positions with benefits. They say they also plan to send out newsletters and place ads on their social media platforms next week to hopefully get more people interested in becoming a bus driver for their district.