Some Washoe County School District students in northwest Nevada won’t have school bus service when they return from President’s Day weekend because there aren’t enough drivers to pick them up.
In fact, most general education student riders will need to find alternative ways to get to and from school one week a month for the remainder of the school year. The state’s second largest school district that serves the Reno area announced the move on Monday in a letter to families.
Scott Lee, Washoe’s director of transportation, told School Transportation News that the district had 88 bus driver vacancies as of Wednesday afternoon. Lee said that when fully staffed, Washoe fills 303 driver positions.
“The average amount of staff we have driving is about 27, but we have also reached out to former school bus drivers in other departments within our district to assist,” he shared.
He added that ongoing consolidations and changing transportation models already made this school year have also reduced the overall route count to accommodate the increasing driver vacancies.
Starting Tuesday, a series of rotating bus schedules go into effect that suspends bus service one week at a time for each of the district’s five service areas, impacting general education students at 75 campuses districtwide. Lee said the change will impact 15,000 to 16,000 general education students.
Federally protected students with disabilities who have transportation as a related service listed on their Individualized Education Plan will not be affected. The same goes for neighborhood schools classified as “walk only,” Lee noted.
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The rolling bus service outages start next week in Area 2, which includes 11 elementary schools, four middle schools and two high schools. It then moves the week of Feb. 28 to Areas 3 and4 consisting of 21 elementary schools, four middle schools and four high schools. The next affected is Area 5 and its five elementary schools, two middle schools and one high school the week of March 7.
Washoe then goes on spring break from March 14 through March 25.
Area 1 and its 12 elementary schools, five middle schools and four high schools are skipped the Week of March 28. The outages then proceed, repeating in the same above pattern for the rest of the school year, which is scheduled to end on June. 7