Portland School District officials said Wednesday that they will make changes next fall to either the yellow school bus system or to school start times, to avoid problems that have plagued the district this year.

The problems this fall have fallen primarily on elementary schools, which are divided into two groups and start 20 minutes apart. The idea was to have yellow school buses make runs to multiple schools, but instead they have had logistical problems that include one bus arriving at East End School 10 minutes before staff arrives, forcing students to wait on the bus with the driver for that period, or at the end of the day, not having buses available to pick up students at Presumpscot Elementary school until an hour after classes ended, forcing teachers and students to wait in the cafeteria.

“The two (starting times) are just too close together,” interim Superintendent Jeanne Crocker told the school board’s operations committee at their meeting Wednesday night.

The school board approved the new start times last December as part of a larger initiative to add 20 minutes to the school day, and switch all high school students off the yellow buses and onto Metro buses.

Crocker said it would be too disruptive to change school start times this fall, and the district can borrow buses and use resources within the existing transportation budget to make ends meet for the rest of the year.

Among the accommodations already made this year, she said, were borrowing buses from Bonny Eagle school district, changing the number of buses on certain routes and using temporary drivers to fill vacant positions.

Crocker said the district also was working to shift some East End teachers’ schedules earlier, so they would be there when the first bus arrived. She credited the teachers who have been working early and staying late without filing a union grievance or making complaints.

But next year, there will have to be changes, Crocker said. District staff will draw up a new plan and present it to the school board sometime after December, she said. It could be that simply changing which schools are in each group could fix the problem, so that the groups are geographically clustered and the buses have more efficient routes.

Or the start times of the schools may change, she said.

“(Any changes) will have to be very carefully vetted, including by our school leaders who were not part of this process and could have saved us a great deal of heartache,” she said. “We have to learn from the past year.”

School Board member Stephanie Hatzenbuehler said she thought making changes next year was the right course.

“There’s certainly enough blame to go around. It was like a perfect storm,” she said of the problems in recent weeks. “I think everyone has done a really great job making a miracle happen, really,” she said of the efforts made to address problems this year. “I also feel for the parents and students and teachers.”

Board member Jenna Vendil said teachers she talked to have been understanding about the problems, as have parents who told her they appreciated the district was making changes this fall to correct some of the problems.

“They know the district is working on it,” she said.

This fall, some parents also have raised safety concerns because the yellow buses are being routed to artery streets, such as Congress Street. Transportation officials said they were continuing to evaluate the routes and were meeting Thursday with concerned parents, and would do another safety evaluation after daylight-saving time ends Nov. 1.