HomeMultimediaFamilies Look for Transportation as School Districts Face Bus Driver Shortage

Families Look for Transportation as School Districts Face Bus Driver Shortage

Many school districts around the country are facing a severe school bus driver shortage, leaving many families wondering how they will transport their children to and from school.

In Charlottesville, Virginia, Alanna Smith and her husband were faced with difficulties when their middle son’s bus route got cancelled weeks before school started.

A recent USA Today analysis found at least one instance of a major school bus driver shortage in every state this year in the U.S.

The school bus driver shortage has been an ongoing problem for over a decade, however, the problem seemed to have been exacerbated by COVID-19 as a large number of drivers retired early.

Enough people are not being found to fill the school bus driver positions that were left vacant.

Joanna McFarland, CEO and co-founder of transportation network company Hopskipdrive, said in a PBS News segment that access to transportation is really access to education. More is at stake for students than many realize.

The school bus driver shortage has many repercussions, with one of them being an increase in chronic absenteeism. This can affect learning outcomes, education and stress levels that families are feeling every single day.

Bus drivers also feel like they do not have the chance to interact much with students as they used to do in the past, due to the number of routes they may have to cover.

One of the main causes of the shortage is due to low pay. Some districts lose drivers due to other districts or companies and other professions offering a significantly higher amount of income plus hiring bonuses.

The situation has forced districts and parents to outsource. For instance, in Philadelphia, a pandemic program paying parents a stipend to transport their students to and from school is still in effect. Each family is paid $300 a month per household to take their children to school and pick them up. If they cannot pick their students up but they can take them to school, then they are paid $150 a month.

Molly McGee-Hewitt, the executive director of the National Association for Pupil for Transportation, stated during the PBS segment that the current worker shortage resulted in some transportation industry employees leaving school busing because they could obtain a guaranteed number of hours and benefits elsewhere.

The only way to solve this issue, she said, is not to change or to lessen the requirements to become a driver but to make sure that drivers are getting guaranteed numbers of hours, a benefit package that is competitive, additional training, extra assistance in the de-escalation of any situation on board, and professional development.

Related: North Carolina School District Faces Severe School Bus Driver Shortage
Related: Unforeseen Liability: The Impact of Transportation Personnel Shortages
Related: Ease Your Staffing Shortages
Related: The Lasting Impact of a Former Pennsylvania School Bus Driver

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