Transportation: Frequently Asked Questions

School bus transportation is the shared responsibility of Georgetown County School District (GCSD) and the South Carolina Department of Education (SCDE). This shared responsibility ensures that our transportation system is safe, reliable, economical, and efficient. The SCDE furnishes and maintains the bus fleet and GCSD recruits, trains, and assigns school bus drivers. Bus routes are developed by GCSD and approved by the SCDE. Buses serve routes at both the elementary/intermediate level and the middle/high level.


Below are answers to some commonly asked questions about transportation services. 


Q: Who do I call if I have a problem with the behavior on the school bus?

A: You should direct your inquiry to the principal or assistant principal of the school your child attends. Because the school bus is considered an extension of the learning environment, discipline is handled by your child’s school. 


Please review the GCSD Student Handbooks, which are updated annually.  The handbooks include information about student conduct.  Students are expected to conduct themselves in a manner conducive to learning in the classroom and on school and activity buses.


Q: Who do I call if I have a question or concern about school transportation?

A: Bus service is operated by the GCSD Transportation Department.  Questions and concerns should first be communicated to the Bus Area Coordinator that serves your child's school.  The GCSD Transportation office can be contacted by calling 843.436.7183.


Q: Who is eligible to ride the bus? 

A: Bus service is available to students who live more than 1.5 miles away from the school for which they are zoned. Students who live within 1.5 miles of their school are not generally eligible for school bus transportation. The distance is normally measured from the edge of the property or driveway where the student lives to the nearest entry point of the school property. 


Q: Do I have to fill out paperwork for my child to ride the bus?

A: Yes. Students eligible for bus service must register for transportation when completing online registration.  After registration has ended, parents/guardians can request transportation by contacting their child's school. 


Q: Why can’t the school bus come closer to my house?

A: Bus service is available to students who live more than 1.5 miles away from the school for which they are zoned. Students may be required to walk up to a three-tenths of a mile to access their school bus stop. An additional route segment may be added in cases where students live more than three-tenths of a mile from an existing route.

Exceptions:

 

  • Students with disabilities who live within the 1.5 mile zone may be eligible to receive transportation depending on the relationship between the student’s disability and transportation.
  • Students who live within the 1.5 mile zone who are required to walk through traffic hazard areas may qualify for service. This decision is made on a case by case basis by the school district.
  • During periods of inclement weather, buses may be allowed to stop on the regular route at safe points nearest the house of each child, but cannot deviate from regular routes.

Q: Why can’t the school bus come down my road?

A: In addition to the student eligibility rules, school buses are only allowed to travel on roadways that assure the safe transport of students. Safety is determined by the ability of the school bus to meet and pass another vehicle of equal size, and the roadway must be well-built enough to avoid damaging the school bus or creating the potential for an accident. In addition, bus stops must have a clear visibility of 600 feet in each direction, or a "School Bus Stop Ahead" sign must be located at a point 600 feet in each direction from a designated stop. Stops and turn-abouts shall not be made on blind curves, steep grades, or near the crests of hills or other unsafe traffic environments.  Backing up a school bus is to be avoided.  The quality of the roadway during bad weather also must be taken into consideration. The safety of the student passengers must be given top priority. School buses are also restricted from using certain private roads. Private roads are only used with the permission of the owner(s).


Q: What time should children be at the bus stop?

A: Students should arrive at the school bus stop ten minutes before the bus is scheduled to arrive. Buses may arrive within 10 minutes of the scheduled time, but may not leave the stop before the scheduled bus stop arrival time unless all enrolled students have boarded.

Q: Where should children stand at the bus stop?

A: A school bus stop includes both sides of any two-lane road. Children are not required to cross a multilane road to access a school bus stop. Students should generally be standing on the side of the road nearest to their home and should not stand next to the roadway. Students should stand away from the road until after the school bus has come to a complete stop, activated the traffic control devices, and the driver has motioned the students to board the bus. Before crossing the road, students are always to watch the school bus driver and wait for the driver to verify that traffic following and meeting the bus has stopped. Once the driver has verified that the traffic has stopped and it is safe to cross the road, students will be signaled to cross. Students should check for traffic before crossing the road and watch the school bus driver as they cross in case the traffic environment suddenly changes. Students must never cross behind a school bus. When students cross in front of a bus, they must make sure that the bus driver sees them. The bus driver must acknowledge the student’s crossing. Adults supervising children at school bus stops can set a good example by following the same road crossing rules required of children. 

Q: Why is my child’s bus late? 

A: GCSD provides service to two bus routes, one for elementary/intermediate students and one for middle/high students. Some buses have multiple routes at each level. We make the best effort to have buses arrive and depart on time. With the exception of the first several weeks of school, school buses are usually late for two reasons: mechanical problems or a substitute or late driver.

Q: What is the maximum ride time for my child?

A: State law does not limit ride time or distance. Although it is rare for a route to be longer than 1 hour and 15 minutes, this does sometimes occur. The SCDE monitors ride times and tries to shorten them as much as possible within the limitations of the bus fleet.


Q: Who sets school bus routes and schedules?

A: School bus routes and schedules are managed by the GCSD Transportation Department and approved by the SCDE to ensure they are in compliance with state law. The SCDE provides assistance to each school district, but the district makes all final determinations


Q: Who is responsible for safety at bus stops?

A: Parents are responsible for student conduct and safety at bus stops until the bus arrives in the morning and after the bus departs in the afternoon. An excerpt from the SC Code of laws: "Section 59-67-415. Parents or guardians are responsible for the safety, conduct, and the timely arrival of their children to, from, and at the designated school bus stop before the arrival of the school bus for pick up and transport to school and the timely departure of the child after the school bus leaves the designated school bus stop after transporting the children from school. For purposes of this section, the phrase 'arrival of the school bus' includes the time that the school bus assigned to the school bus stop activates the required pedestrian safety devices, stops, and loads or unloads students until the school bus deactivates all pedestrian safety devices." 


Q: Can my child be required to sit in a designated school bus seat?
A: Yes, students can be assigned a seat. This is a practice used by many school districts to control behavior on the school bus. State law gives school districts this authority.

Q: Why can’t I get on the bus to talk to the bus driver?

A: Parents desiring to discuss any issue with the bus driver must contact the school administrators to arrange a meeting after the bus completes its routes. School buses cannot be delayed during the route for parents to talk to the driver. Boarding a school bus without permission or interfering with the operation of the bus in any way is illegal and could result in prosecution. (SC Code 59- 67-245). This law protects the safety of students and helps assure that routes run on time. 


Q: Why can’t my child bring their band instrument onto the bus?

A: All items allowed onto buses must be able to be held in the student’s lap and must not extend beyond the student’s seating space. The child is not allowed to sit on a book bag or similar carry-on item or store items on the floor of the bus. These are safety requirements. Therefore, students are not allowed to carry large music instruments, science projects, or other items that may protrude into the seating space of another student. These items must also not be allowed to block access to exits. These requirements are necessary so that in the event of a traffic accident, carry-on items are secured and do not become projectiles inside the bus.


Q: Do I have to meet my children at the bus stop? 

A: Elementary students must be met at the bus stop by an authorized individual. If no one is at the bus stop to take charge of the student, the student will be returned to his or her elementary school once the bus route has been completed and the parents/guardians will be notified by the school. The parent/guardian must then arrange for the student to be picked up at the school.


Parents of 4th-5th grade students may opt out of having an authorized individual meet their student at the bus stop by submitting written communication to their student’s school. 


Q: What can I do to make my child’s trip to school safe?

A: Accompany or arrange for an adult to accompany your child to the school bus stop and wait for the school bus to arrive. In the afternoon, a parent/guardian or other adult should be at the school bus stop when the bus arrives and accompany your child home. Parents should model safe practices at the bus stop including standing away from the road until after the school bus has come to a complete stop, activated the traffic control devices, and the driver has motioned the students to board the bus. Adults should make sure children check for traffic before crossing the road and watch the school bus driver as they cross in case the traffic environment suddenly changes. Students must never cross behind a school bus. State law places the responsibility for a child’s safety on the parent until the school bus arrives at the bus stop in the morning and after the bus leaves the site in the afternoon.

Q: Why are there no seat belts on school buses?

A: School buses are designed with a "compartmentalized" passenger safety system. This means that the interior of the bus is designed with seats that are strong, flexible, padded and spaced precise distances apart to protect student riders. In addition, the exterior construction is designed to prevent the penetration of objects into the passenger area or the collapse of the roof. The compartmentalization system is "passive," meaning that students only need to sit down in the bus seat. They don’t have to put on or attach any kind of device to gain an increased level of safety. 

Q: How many is too many students on a school bus?

A: Bus manufacturers determine the seating capacity of each bus, and this rating is usually shown on the manufacturer's vehicle identification plate. Most South Carolina school buses have a rated seating capacity of 60 to 78 students. Buses that are designed to transport students with disabilities transport fewer students because these buses must make room for wheelchair lift systems and at least two wheelchair securement systems on each bus. Bus manufacturers calculate seating capacity by assigning 13 inches of seat width per student. Thirteen inches is the typical space needed for kindergarten through third-grade students; obviously, older students take up more room.

Q: Are there cameras on the buses? Can I have access to the video?

A: Buses in Georgetown County School District are equipped with video cameras. School administrators may authorize parents to review tapes only in limited circumstances. All requests to review a tape must be made through school administrators; the transportation department cannot authorize any review.


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