BELFAST, Maine — 6-year-old Sabryna-Mae had to bundle up a little extra to wait for the school bus on Thursday morning. That’s because the buses in RSU 71 had to start doubling up on runs, causing students to have to wait longer to get to and from school.
"I hope the bus can hurry up because I’m getting really cold," Sabryna-Mae said.
The buses have been an issue in this district for a few months. Just two months ago, school was canceled for Swanville students because there weren’t enough bus drivers to get the whole district to school.
Parents of children in the district tell NEWS CENTER Maine that all the buses got inspection stickers a week ago, but on Wednesday, Maine State Police performed a surprise inspection.
Families are outraged and emotional that a new problem has come up.
"It's not bus drivers getting sick or having deaths in their family, so they had to cancel school and there was no bus runs. These are unsafe buses and these are my grandchildren, and that's unacceptable to me," Sabryna-Mae’s grandmother, Lisa Brassbridge, said.
“The whole situation is just really upsetting as a mother,” Sabryna-Mae’s mother, Ashley Brassbridge said. “Because it's my child.”
Parents also want answers.
Superintendent Mary Alice Mclean released a statement about just that.
"…As superintendent of schools I am conducting a thorough investigation into the reasons behind the buses' removal from circulation and the inspection sticker irregularity, as well putting forth a plan for structural changes in the areas of transportation and maintenance in our school district.
The safety of all of our students is my highest priority as well as the timely and reliable transportation of students to and from school and school activities. I will continue to update the community as my investigation moves forward."
Bus drivers we spoke with Thursday morning say they are not allowed to talk to the media and that they are frustrated. They also say that one of the six buses taken off the road will be taken off for good.
Families who trust the school district drivers with their children don't want to be left out in the cold anymore.