Bentonville Buses Delayed as Students Head Back to Class

Ten Bentonville school buses had trouble starting because of cold temperatures, according to the school district. The delay forced some students to wait longer for their bus in -6 degree weather Thursday (Feb. 6).

Bentonville school administrators posted on the school’s Facebook page, asking parents to be aware that students could be picked up later than usual.

“Please be aware and take appropriate action with your student so they are not at their bus stop for long periods in the cold,” an administrator posted.

Chris DeWitt, transportation director, said, drivers came in to work at 3 a.m. instead of 4:30 a.m. to start the buses early.

“There’s nothing really we could’ve done to have prevented it,” DeWitt said.

More than 100 buses are used and only 10 buses had to warm up extra long. Sub-zero temperatures turned diesel in those buses into gel.

“The majority of our buses ran on time as scheduled,” DeWitt said. “We had some that were five minutes late all the way to an hour on one of them.”

Students at Bentonville, Rogers, Springdale and Fayetteville schools headed back to school after three snow days.

“I think the district did what they needed to do to keep kids safe,” said Kelly Kinsell, Bentonville mom. “Today was the day, I think, we needed to get them in and everyone needs to be extra careful.”

Students and parents made their way into an icy Bentonville High School campus.

“Our subdivision is the worse but it was still manageable,” said Laura Kirk, Bentonville mom. “The school parking lot is actually really bad so were surprised about that.”

School districts ran limited bus routes because of icy road conditions.

According to DeWitt, drivers will be in an hour and a half earlier Friday again to start their engines. DeWitt said he wants students to stay safe.

“Make sure when you send your child to the bus stop be aware that somethings can happen,” DeWitt said. “We could have a bus that’s running slow, we could have a bus that has a mechanical problem.”

“We just want to make sure your kids are bundled up,” DeWitt said.

Rick Schaeffer with the Springdale School said they had between 8 to ten buses have issues started but they had back up buses so no route was missed. He said students waited less than 30 minutes for their bus.

Ron Young, transportation director for the Rogers Public Schools, said they had three buses that didn’t start.

Young and Alan Wilbourn, with the Fayetteville School District, said there were bus delayers because drivers were being cautious of slick conditions.

There weren’t any bus accidents reported.

There are a handful of smaller schools in Northwest Arkansas that are out for the fourth snow day this week. For a list of school closures, click here.

1 Comment

  • Julie D

    Engines were not the only problem. There was also a major communication mix up with the drivers. Apparently the elementary children in Centerton were to meet their buses at a local church. But secondary routes were to be run as normal, except for a couple of the secondary buses that were also scheduled to pick their children up at the church. However, several drivers thought they were to do the same for both elementary and secondary students. My daughter attends a junior high in Bentonville. Her driver was one that received wrong pickup information. He went to the church instead of running his route. But his normal riders were all at their designated bus stops, waiting in sub zero temperatures. It was only after I called the transportation department looking for the bus that the error was discovered. We were then told the driver would be at least half an hour late picking up children as he had already left Centeron and would have to be sent back. The transportation department then rerouted other buses in the area to help pick up the children that were still outside waiting. In a second incident, my niece’s bus completely bypassed her whole neighborhood. She and several other children stood at their bus stop of nearly an hour before finally going home. These were only two incidents. I did take my niece to school (BHS) and they were well aware of the problem. Luckily the children were not counted tardy or absent due to the mix up. However, the concern is that the windchill in Centerton this morning was -8 during the time the buses were running. There was a wind chill advisory in effect while the kids were standing outside. This was a very dangerous mix up to have happen.

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