No Buses for Sports

No+Buses+for+Sports

Shea Parker, Reporter

Since COVID, DeKalb County has been struggling to find enough bus drivers. This is not only affecting getting students to school but is also causing a problem for sports teams who are trying to get to away games and meets on time and safely.

“At the beginning of each sport season, coaches are supposed to submit a request form of  dates and places that we want to go to. Ms. Allen at the school is in charge of trying to arrange buses and then all she can do is submit our request formally to DeKalb County to try to get a bus,” said Cross Country Coach Jennifer Tinnell.

Recently they have been facing issues with these requests. This is due to the fact that DeKalb County doesn’t have enough bus drivers at the ready.

“We will put in requisitions like six months in advance and then […]  six hours before we’re supposed to leave the bus doesn’t have a driver, or it’s canceled and it’s really frustrating,” said Softball Coach Nathaniel Berryman. “Just last week the bus did not show up, so then we had to scramble to get parents to take kids to the field, and then as soon as we were leaving, the bus decided to finally show up. Apparently it was a communication error because the county did not contact the driver.”

Due to the lack of drivers and buses it has led to events being canceled, or delayed.

“We have some local DeKalb County cross country meets that are held at Druid Hills Middle School over in Decatur, and DeKalb County could not guarantee that we would have two buses to leave Chamblee on time to get us to the meet […], so because we couldn’t get buses in a to arrive on time. We ,Chamblee, decided to not go to that meet,” said Tinnell.

The issue isn’t the bus drivers the county has, it is the lack of bus drivers, the lack of communication and the lack of pay.

“I’ve been coaching for 32 years and I’ve ridden many, many buses. It’s a good way to get to games, when we have fully staffed bus drivers. I think right now we’re a little short on bus drivers,” said Softball Coach Alan Loper. “The bus shortage affects us and sometimes we run late, but to their defense they’ve been pretty darn good when their bus is on time.”

Due to the efficiency of the county providing buses, having them readily provided is a great convenience to the sports teams at Chamblee. 

“Everybody arrives at the same time. You have the equipment and everything ready to go.  Consistent buses allows for a lot less question marks for safety,” said Berryman.

The other options for getting student athletes to these events is parents driving and carpooling, due to students being unable to drive themselves to these places.

“If there are less kids involved in the sport and they can get parents to carpool  them to away matches or meets, then I think that can be less stressful and faster. But the benefit of the bus is that the team gets to be together. There’s just an unspoken kind of bonding and fun that happens on the bus,” said Tinnell, “I mean, there’s just memories. It’s funny, it seems kind of silly, but honestly buses do provide a lot of that kind of nostalgic part of being in high school. But buses can also be very stressful.”

Bus drivers are also underpaid, and due to this, the county doesn’t have enough drivers to fulfill everyone’s requests.

“I mean we want the bus rides to be safe and stress free, and that is not the way it is operating,” said Tinnell.

These issues are consistent, and there hasn’t been a change or improvement. There isn’t one singular place to put the blame, but there is issue that should be resolved.