After repeated attempts at recruitment, Baldwin City School District in Eastern Kansas announced that it will not be offering school bus transportation for students who lived less than 2.5 miles from their school for the 2018-2019 school year.
“This is specifically due to a shortage of bus drivers,” the district said in its June 22 announcement. “We have been advertising for some time now and the board has been increasing the pay for drivers over the past few years.”
Parents commented on the BCSD Facebook page to state their concerns of the danger posed to students walking near highways or in poor weather.
In the school board meeting during which the decision was made, a committee was formed to “examine some details with this change” and make further recommendations. The board stated that the decision could be reversed if additional drivers were hired in the future.
“We are advertising for good drivers 24/7/365, if you or someone you know might have an interest in driving please contact our transportation office,” the district stated in May. Multiple posts across its social media accounts invited individuals to apply for school bus driver jobs. The pay was listed as $17.28 per hour.
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However, BCSD’s best efforts had not yielded the hoped-for results. Along with its end-of-year notes released in May, the district included a description of the challenges it was facing in hiring qualified drivers.
The transportation department was reported later in May to be five drivers short of having all of its routes covered. The board considered the news that “[discontinuing] transportation for students living less than 2.5 miles from school would reduce three bus routes immediately and would at least provide the district some more time to resolve the shortage.”
The board decided that if five drivers were hired by June 1, transportation service would continue normally. That goal was not met.
“The problem is a complex problem, and it may mean us having to change our jobs from part-time jobs to full-time jobs where we ask them to do other duties in the district such as custodian, a cook, a teacher’s aide, a secretary,” superintendent Paul Dorathy told the Lawrence Journal-World. “Asking them to do other jobs between them driving in the morning and the afternoon.”
Kansas requires districts to provide transportation to students living at least 2.5 miles or more from their school, and provides funding to do so.