WNY School Introduces Early Dismissal to Address Driver Shortage

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We are facing a number of bottlenecks these days. But even here in western New York the schools are affected by a shortage of bus drivers.

Why is there a shortage of bus drivers?

There are many reasons for a shortage of bus drivers. The first would be postponement. It’s a split shift that starts very early in the day. The second could be payment. At the national level, it’s not a very well-paying job, so many of the people who have a commercial driver’s license (which you need to be a bus driver) have switched careers to another job that is likely to pay more.

The pandemic is of no avail. Many bus drivers were already of retirement age before the pandemic. When it came time to go back to school, many of them decided to retire instead.

Bus drivers must also be vaccinated if they are traveling with children. Something that obviously pushed some people out of the job as well.

Why is it such a problem?

Some school districts report that it is becoming a safety issue. In some cases, children have to wait in school before a bus can pick them up. Sometimes children come home almost 90 minutes after they are released. When they are on the school grounds, there are fights.

What are the options for bringing children home?

Some school districts offer to pay parents to pick up and drop off children just to get them where they need to be. In the case of Niagara Falls High School, they found that if they shave 3 minutes out of every hour, the kids can be released 30 minutes earlier, which gives the buses 20 minutes to do their run, and then get back on time, so that the primary school students can be dropped off at the same time.

“The high school students from now until the rest of the school year leave at 2:30 pm. These buses then have 20 minutes to make their trip, which we measured, and are then in elementary school at 3:00 pm.” PM and get the elementary school students home at the normal time, “- Niagara Falls Superintendent Mark Laurrie

Will it work?

We will see. They assume that it will be an interim solution by the end of the year. It starts today (August 11th).

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