A shortage of school bus drivers prompted some districts to scramble to find drivers earlier this summer, offering hiring bonuses and other incentives to attract talent. Now that the school year is underway, some districts are feeling the full impact of this shortage, often causing disruption.
School bus drivers organize their trips into races. A run encompasses the area of ââa high school, college or elementary school. An itinerary includes all three categories. Itineraries and races are organized by bell hours in specific schools.
In order to accommodate fewer drivers, districts have canceled transportation to sporting events, consolidating routes and reroutings, and even delaying and canceling races.
Wayne-Westland Community Schools in Wayne County is one such district. Rhonda Lyons is the District Director of Transportation.
According to Lyon, they have 55 routes, two of which require a full-time driver. Two of the district’s four relief drivers will fill these positions and a third will fill a position that will open at the end of the month. This means that by October Wayne-Westland will have a single driver to cover all absences, cancellations, sick days and time off requests.
âWe had employees who are not drivers driving, which would be our office staff, our routers, garage supervisorsâ¦ myself! I drive too,â she said. âUnfortunately when we are really short of staff and we can’t rob Peter to pay Paul and have other drivers make certain stops just to bring these kids in, we had to make the decision to cancel them. shopping that morning. “
It’s really hard for Lyon.
“It really weighs on me because it’s the only way for many children to go to school. And sometimes we don’t know until the early hours that we can’t provide transport for the day,” he said. she declared.
It also means tough decisions about which tracks remain and which ones need to be cut.
“It’s hard to go in and press that button to see how many people aren’t coming to work that day, and you know, you have to know, okay, what can we cover and who not can we not transport that day, “said Lyon.
Lyons said staff shortages are an issue in education, not just transportation. She said the big question is how to fix it. One solution may be to change the driving requirements from a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License).
âOr looking at potentially, you know, increasing the hours, maybe consider offering some type of level of underemployment benefit for drivers during the summer, if the state would be willing to look into that. C ‘is an option that I think really needs to be looked at, âshe said.