Northside ISD parents concerned about overcrowding after students pictured sitting on top of each other in bus

The problem of a bus driver shortage is snowballing into more issues for Northside ISD -- the district is still trying to manage the situation.

SAN ANTONIO – Parents of Northside ISD students are frustrated and concerned about their children’s safety after the lack of bus drivers led to overcrowding on a Harlan High School bus in which students were seen sitting on each other.

“Wow, I had heard that they were sitting on the floor, but that’s -- I would not have imagined that to be the case here in San Antonio,” said Joel Ziegler, a Northside ISD parent, after he was shown a picture of the overcrowded bus.

Ziegler said he knew there was an issue with a lack of drivers, but he had no idea how bad things had gotten.

“I guess somebody’s not monitoring the level of growth on these schools. Every one of these neighborhoods comes with a new elementary school and a new middle school, so they haven’t been staffing accordingly,” he said.

Northside ISD says it has made changes to prevent overcrowding.

“A second bus was sent to split the run and adjustments have been made to prevent further overcrowding,” the district said in a statement.

The district says it is working to hire 60 additional drivers to fill its needs.

Harlan High School Principal Robert Harris sent the following statement:

“We are still working closely with NISD transportation to iron out some bus issues, but I am confident that those issues will be resolved very soon.”

Below is Northside ISD’s full statement:

“The picture you reference is a bus issue that was addressed and resolved yesterday by transportation and campus staff. A second bus was sent to split the run and adjustments have been made to prevent further overcrowding. The district will continue to take these steps as long as the need exists.

“Transportation staff continue to adjust bus routes, as necessary, to ensure bus occupancy is not too large or small. Our goal is to run efficient routes while prioritizing student safety.

“Currently, the district is down approximately 20 routes. Ideally, we would like to hire 60 additional drivers so that we are able to handle all necessary routes as well as cover for drivers on days they have to be out from work.

“If a parent has any concern regarding their child’s bus route, reach out to your child’s campus and discuss the concern with school administrators.

“If anyone is interested in applying to be a Northside ISD bus driver, they can call 210-397-0878. Our Transportation hiring specialists will assist with the application process as well as explain all of the benefits as well as the paid CDL training that is provided.”

About the Authors:

John Paul Barajas is a reporter at KSAT 12. Previously, he worked at KRGV 5 in the Rio Grande Valley. He has a degree from the University of Houston. In his free time, he likes to get a workout in, spend time on the water and check out good eats and drinks.