Nationwide school bus driver shortage cancels routes

By David Fleet
Goodrich— School districts nationwide continue to face a shortage of school bus drivers.
Last week the Goodrich District announced that a morning and evening route including elementary, middle and high school students has been canceled due to a lack of a driver. The temporary cancellation is not the first for the district, said Wayne Wright, district superintendent.
“A new driver has been hired, but it takes two-three months to train,” he said. “Substitute drivers can fill in if they need to, keeping the route going.”
Over the past year the district has successfully utilized licensed staff and department leaders to cover routes when needed.
In 2013 the Goodrich Board of Trustees voted 5-1 outsourcing 13 bus drivers for the district. School officials said the drivers had the opportunity to apply for the jobs with Michigan Educational Transportation Services who won the bid. The compensation was the same at $17.84 per hour and 20 to 25 hours per week. The district savings result from less retirement costs, F.I.C.A. (Federal Insurance Contributions Act), and workers compensation.
The move outsourced the pay for the drivers, said Wright.
“They are METS employees, but there is just no one out there to hire,” said Wright. “METS is looking for drivers, the district is looking too. We still need more drivers, some could retire at the end of the school year. Many times in our own area we find the drivers.”
There’s just not enough people out there to drive, added Wright.
“You’re driving for two or three hours in the morning and off until come back and drive in the afternoon. It’s hard to do.”
The school districts were short drivers before COVID, he added.
“We were struggling to maintain it,” he said. “We always like to have a spare driver. That’s what happened last week, we did not have a substitute driver and it had to be canceled.”
Those interested in school bus driving contact the Goodrich Transportation Supervisor at 810-591-3454. Competitive wage, training, and a $1,000 signing bonus.

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