What’s Behind Area School Bus Driver Shortages? We Asked Districts
You may have heard, or perhaps your child has experienced it already, the shortage of bus drivers.
It's not really affecting regular school pickup and drop-off routes, but mainly afterschool activities and sports.
Pasco last week had to cancel all away middle school football and soccer games due to a shortage of drivers. Even some HS events have been affected, with teams having to 'juggle' schedules and even ride with other teams if they're headed to the same venue.
Some sporting events are now "drop-off only", parents have to provide a ride home. We reached out to the area Districts and asked what's behind the issue.
We do know COVID has had some impact on educators, not just drivers.
Robyn Chastain, PIO for Kennewick, said this is not a 'sudden' issue. She included this information:
"Bus driver positions has been a growing issue for the past few years. We’ve noticed in the shortage in all of our support positions, especially bus drivers, paraeducators, cooks, and cashiers. There are likely a host of issues that contribute to the current situation."
She said especially substitute or part-time drivers are often the key to making transportation work. Currently, KSD needs 8 more drivers, and a number of subs to fully cover their current needs.
Kennewick does provide all the training needed for an approved applicant who wants to be a school bus driver, including help getting their CDL (large commercial vehicle) license.
Ty Beaver, the PIO in Richland, offered this information:
"We have several regular bus routes that are depending on substitute drivers at this time but we are always in need of bus drivers and bus attendants. We are being affected by the same hiring challenges facing many employers: smaller applicant pools as individuals weigh their options in light of COVID-19 and other issues."
Richland's minimum requirements for being a driver include:
- Valid driver’s license for a minimum of five years
- Clean driving record
- Pass a pre-employment drug screening
- Pass a Washington State Patrol and FBI background check
From what we have learned, Pasco is pretty much in the same position as Richland and Kennewick.
There have been a few new drivers hired in the Districts, but that's been partially offset by a few retirements, and some drivers moving from full to part-time.
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