BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — As Buffalo Public Schools gear up for the first day of class, some parents still have a lot of concerns heading into the year.

Last August, the biggest issues facing the district were bus transportation, school safety and the negotiations between the teachers union and district. The superintendent says some of these problems are in the rearview mirror, but some parents say they’ll need to see it to believe it.

“The atmosphere from the top down is better, but we don’t know if things have really gotten better,” said Ed Speidel, president of the District Parent Coordinating Council.

Speidel says he is anxious about the start of the school year. He says transportation and security are his top priorities.

“Imagine a parent saying they’re fortunate your kid has autism, but I’m fortunate my kid has autism because he gets a safe school, but not all schools are safe,” Speidel said.

Last year, hiring and retaining bus drivers was a key issue in August. This year, Superintendent Dr. Tonja Williams says there are enough drivers and bus aides to start the year after the district implemented a three-tiered start time system.

“It’s going to allow us to have after school extended learning time for children. Before, what was happening is that buses were coming to pick up children and then they would have to come back again,” Williams said.

The summer has proven difficult for Buffalo’s teens after a string of Kia and Hyundai car thefts and vandalism in the parks. BPS says they’ve hired more mental health professionals to support students.

“No, I don’t think we ever have enough counselors,” Speidel said. “I’m hoping that being the third year back from COVID that some people can take care of their personal self and be good citizens.”

“We’ve looked at each school and what the school needs. We’ve talked to principals. Principals have been able to tell us what they need to move their schools successfully,” Williams added.

With the school year just weeks away, Williams believes her district is moving forward and leaving past problems behind.

“Last year I spent a lot of time cultivating trust with the community and being transparent on where we were. This year it is about accountability,” Williams concluded.

The district says it is optimistic and ready to welcome students back in just a few weeks. The school year starts Sept. 8.

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Tara Lynch is a Buffalo native and Emmy-nominated reporter who joined the News 4 team in 2022. She previously worked at WETM in Elmira, N.Y., a sister station of News 4. You can follow Tara on Facebook and Twitter and find more of her work here.