WNY School Introducing Early Release To Overcome Driver Shortage
We are dealing with a number of shortages these days. But one that is affecting schools even here in Western New York is a shortage of bus drivers.
Why is there a bus driver shortage?
There are a lot of reasons why there could be a shortage of bus drivers. The first would be the shift. It's a split shift that starts very early in the day. The second could be the pay. Nationally, it's not a very high-paying job, so a lot of the people who have commercial driving licenses (which you need to have to be a bus driver) have switched careers to another job that probably pays more.
The pandemic isn't helping anything. A lot of bus drivers were already at the age of retirement before the pandemic hit. So when it came time to come back to school, many of them chose to retire instead.
Bus drivers also have to be vaccinated if they're going to be around kids. Something that has obviously forced some people out of the profession as well.
Why is it such an issue?
Some school districts are reporting that it's becoming a safety issue. In some instances, kids are having to wait at the school before a bus can come get them. Some times kids are arriving home almost 90 minutes after being dismissed. When they're lingering around the school grounds, fights are breaking out.
So what are the options to get kids home?
Some school districts are offering to pay parents to pick up and drop off kids just to get them where they need to be. In the case of Niagara Falls high school school, they've found that if they shave 3 minutes off of each period, the kids will be able to be dismissed 30 minutes earlier which will give the busses 20 minutes to do their run, then get back in time for the elementary students to be dropped off at the same time.
"The high school students from now until the remainder of the school year will leave at 2:30 p.m. Those buses will then have 20 minutes to do their run, which we've measured out, then be at the elementary school by 3:00 p.m. and transport the elementary students home by the normal time," - Niagara Falls Superintendant Mark Laurrie
Will it work?
We will see. They anticipate that it will be a temporary solution that will last until the end of the year. It starts today (11/8).
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