All schools in Roanoke are expected to receive full accreditation status for the second year in a row, school administrators said Tuesday.

The Virginia Department of Education has not yet formally announced ratings for the 2019-2020 school year. The statewide announcement is expected by the end of the month.

Julie Drewry, executive director of school improvement for Roanoke City Public Schools, told the Roanoke School Board the division’s preliminary data indicates all schools will remain accredited.

Roanoke reached fully accredited status in all of its schools last year for the first time.

The school system achieved the mark as the state introduced a wave of changes to its accreditation standards. Previously, ratings were based mostly on Standards of Learning exams. Schools are now judged by additional “school quality indicators,” such as achievement gaps, graduation, completion and dropout and chronic absenteeism.

The state labels schools accredited, accredited with conditions or accreditation denied under the new system.

In other business, the school board discussed ongoing transportation problems. The school system’s transportation provider, Durham School Services, has struggled with delays since the first day of school, citing a driver shortage. Parents and guardians have also criticized a lack of communication from the company at times.

School board member Eli Jamison questioned when Durham would present details to the board on how it will better communicate and work toward solutions. During a Sept. 10 school board meeting, board member Laura Rottenborn called on the company to produce a concrete plan.

Jamison said she’s inclined to suggest a Durham representative attend all future school board meetings until issues are resolved, drawing applause from some parents in attendance.

Deputy Superintendent Dan Lyons said Durham continues to recruit and train employees. The company is covering 11 routes with members of its staff who are licensed to drive but work primarily in the company’s offices, Lyons said. The company recently lost one driver who accepted a full time job elsewhere, and another who moved out of state, Lyons said.

Transportation appears to be improving in the mornings and remains a larger problem in the afternoons, Lyons said.

Near the end of the meeting, Heather Lawson, a parent of a Fishburn Elementary student, told the board she was notified her children’s bus driver is one of the employees who recently left. The bus has been late by more than 45 minutes multiple times, Lawson said.

Superintendent Rita Bishop told The Roanoke Times she’s optimistic transportation services will soon improve.

Bishop participated in the board’s meeting, and returned to central office this week, for the first time since fracturing her leg over the Labor Day weekend.

Bishop had been working from home as she recovers from the injury.

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