School bus driver shortage continues in school districts statewide

School bus driver shortage continues in school districts statewide
Published: Apr. 28, 2023 at 4:57 PM EDT
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FRANKLIN COUNTY, Ky. (WKYT) - As we near the end of the school year, districts continue to face a problem that has been with them for years a shortage of school bus drivers.

It affects many districts across the state.

Friday morning, Fayette County Public Schools shut down several routes giving the students affected excused absences.

Bus drivers play a vital role in many school districts. Building relationships with the students and ensuring they get safely where they need to be. It’s a rewarding role that is greatly understaffed.

“We haven’t had to cancel any routes yet due to driver shortage, but we’ve had to use mechanics, myself, office personnel driving buses,” said Franklin Co. Schools Transportation Director Brad McKinney. “Teachers have helped us as well.”

And all the training is done in-house. It only takes about six to eight weeks to get your CDL license to become a bus diver and only 12 hours to become a monitor.

They are the first to see the students in the morning and the last before they get home.

McKinney says being a bus driver is the driving force of their school system.

“If the bus drivers can’t get them to school, then the teachers can’t teach them,” said McKinney.

Franklin County schools aren’t the only ones working on recruitment.

“Our districts have been putting out requests for employment on bus drivers this school year, the end of last school year. Trying to get advertisements on buses and the side of the road,” said Toni Konz Tatman with the Kentucky Department of Education.

In Fayette County, FCPS spokeswoman Lisa Deffendal says two and a half buses did not run Friday morning due to absences among their drivers.

Drivers say, with more staff, these types of issues could be resolved.

“It would give us less stress, so we can make sure the kids are getting there on time and the kids know that they can get to school. It’s important for them to have that dependability to know they have a ride to get to school,” said Franklin Co. bus driver Rebecca Stoneking.

To learn more about becoming a bus driver, you can reach out to your local school district or go to the Department of Education’s website.