School faces bus driver shortage


Buses wait at the location behind the gym where drivers drop off and pick up students. On occasions, students going to school and from school have to wait longer for their bus due to the extended routes that their driver took prior or for a substitute driver.

The school district has a bus driver shortage affecting students’ ability to ride buses to go to school.  

“Students are arriving late to school and longer ride times to school and back,” bus driver Vance Bedinghaus said.  

With the lack of buses to be able to take students home on time, students arrive late at school with longer ride times.  

“Students arriving or getting home late can harm academic performance,” Bedinghaus said.  

According to an American University study, tardy students are late to tasks, lessons, and assignments and have a decrease in academic performance.  

According to Bedinghaus, there is a lack of bus drivers because older drivers are retiring.  

“Getting commercial driver’s licenses has become an issue due to the cost of training,” Bedinghaus said.  

When newer drivers are hired, the cost of training is not worth the investment for some drivers.  

“Most bus driver routes consist of elementary, middle school, and high school with many driver routes having to double up,” Bedinghaus said.  

The lack of buses causes drivers to have more routes, increased hours, and driving limitations.  

“Bus drivers are considered part-time employees due to the typical shift being 6:30-8:30 A.M. and 2:30-4:30 P.M,” Bedinghaus said. “They offer work elsewhere within the school district between shifts and adjust the way the bus driver is paid when school is out for concession, similar to the way teachers are paid year-round.”  

During the intercession break, Bedinghaus said bus driver pay should be adjusted to appropriately fit the situation of the bus drivers.  

“I take the school bus, so I would say that the bus sometimes takes a while to get to the pickup,” senior Brandon Arciniega said. “Other than that, it has not affected me.”  

His bus was late nine times during the semester. On a regular bus driver, it takes about 50 minutes for him to go to school and back.  

“I think that bus driver shortages are caused by its low pay and not having much of a social environment when working,” Brandon said.  

Brandon believes they should have higher pay.  

“Due to the shortages, they are late to school because someone has to cover for home,” assistant principal Melissa Estrada said. “Students are late to get picked up. Additionally, it is harder to get buses for field trips.”  

When another person covers the original bus driver, the maintenance, and routes unfamiliar to students take longer to go to school. The Bus driver deficit cannot cover every student and there are instances of drivers leaving students at their bus stops.  

“I believe it’s due to needing certification and they believe they can get paid more outside of the school district,” Estrada said.  

Bus drivers must get through certification takes time and money. When they consider applying for the job, they get a false notion that they can be paid more outside the school district.  

“Each bus driver has three routes,” Estrada said. “One each for Elementary, Middle, and High School students. I would say one is to help them get the certification and the second is to pay them more.”