Over 86 percent of Colorado school districts recently reported that they don’t currently have enough drivers to operate at 100-percent capacity, which they said impacts their ability to effectively target the safety of all student riders.
Of those 58 school districts that responded to the survey conducted by the Child Safety Network (CSN) in partnership with the Colorado Department of Education (CDE), about 16 percent said they need on average about eight more drivers to be fully staffed. However, four districts noted that they need 40 or more drivers.
The survey was sent to the state’s 178 public school districts. According to the CDE, the survey was conducted over a four-day period in early March and sent via Google Survey.
The responses were compiled the same day as an 11-year-old Annaliese Backner was killed after tripping and falling underneath the wheels of her school bus. She reportedly tripped on March 3 while running after the school bus as it pulled away from her stop, making the case for school bus safety an even greater priority.
Of the 58 school districts that responded, 91 percent operate their own buses in-house. Additionally, 78 percent currently have enough buses to operate at 100-percent capacity. What they said they lack is enough staff.
The survey indicates that 66 percent of districts don’t have enough support staff, such as transportation administrators, dispatchers, monitors, recruiters, and technicians.
Related: Colorado Aims to Create Safe Student Protection Program Following Student’s Death
Related: Idaho Superintendent Doubles as School Bus Driver
Related: State-of-the-Art Driving Simulator Eases Recruitment, Training for Michigan School District
Additionally, 76 percent of responding districts stated that they have either had to cancel routes or transportation for sporting or activities. Plus, 74 percent of districts classified the current transportation shortage as urgent or a crisis.
In relation to the current transportation shortage, the districts reported that parents are most often “a little bit annoyed” by the transportation issues (41 percent). Meanwhile, 19 percent of school districts said parents are very unhappy and 29 percent said they are understanding. Other parent feedback included the perception that school districts are able to hide their transportation issues well, as the appearance at least is that school buses are running.