Almost two weeks into the school year and some school districts are still trying to find a way to beat the bus driver shortage.
General McLane School District and Millcreek Township School District are both finding ways to navigate the driver shortage by using similar strategies, such as condensing bus routes.
Weeks into the school year, the bus driver shortage remains a thorn in the sides of area students, parents and school districts.
“Fewer buses, same number of kids. We’ve had to adjust things a little bit so it’s ended up being less stops, more group poll stops, which means that kids are walking a little bit further” said Dave Cannon, transportation manager at General McLane.
“Last year we had 75 bus routes in the district to help adjust for the driver shortage. We’ve already reduced that down to 68 routes. For those 68 routes, we currently have 64 drivers,” said Trevor Murnock, acting assistant superintendent at MSD.
The Millcreek Township School District sent a letter out to parents and guardians explaining the transportation problem.
“We hear their difficulties. We hear their frustrations. Every child is a priority for us every single day, and we actually do live that. So when parents reach out to us, when they contact us, the transportation department as well as the administration takes a look at whatever we can do to help alleviate the situation,” Murnock added.
While driving a school bus full of students may seem intimidating for some, the transportation manager said it can be a fulfilling job.
“People ask me how do you deal with all a bus load of kids, but you know, I can’t speak for every school, but I can tell you here at General McLane the kids are very polite, they thank you for driving them. The kids have not been an issue at all,” said Cannon.
General McLane is using incentives to hire more drivers.
“We are offering free paid training. We have a hiring bonus going on, $1,000 hiring bonus right now. The class is 14 hours in a classroom, that’s where it starts,” Cannon added.
Cannon said another round of paid training begins Monday and takes two to three months to complete.