General McLane School District Faces Issues Hiring Bus Drivers
If you've been driving around recently, you may have noticed many school districts have buses and signs up saying they're hiring drivers.
After years of a nationwide bus driver shortage, it has become worse throughout the pandemic.
"There are fewer people coming in and saying I would like to do this," said Nancy Ekstrom, General McLane School District's transportation manager. "In this past year, we've only had two applications."
General McLane School District is working to avoid any sort of trouble from a bus driver shortage.
"Nobody has employees," said Ekstrom. "You see signs everywhere. Everyone is hiring, everyone is upping the starting pay, everyone is paying bonuses, everyone is fighting for the same pool of people."
With the school year just around the corner, there isn't much time to find more drivers. The district is eight short, so it is doing the best with the ones currently employed, just like the district did three years ago.
"We have what I'm calling 'double plus runs,'" said Ekstrom. "In other words, we are going to go out, we are going to get a group of kids for the high school and middle school, we are going to bring them in. That same bus is going back out, getting another group of kids to bring them to high school and middle school."
That means the buses are going to be full, the trips are going to be long, and the kids are going to be on the bus a little longer than usual.
Ekstrom said riding a school bus is the safest way to get students to school, so it's crucial they have the routes and drivers to pick up the kids.