BOARDMAN, Ohio (WKBN) – The school year has just begun for many local school districts, and student transportation has been a recent topic of discussion.
Many districts across the country are facing a bus driver shortage, creating problems for students getting to school.
“It’s the first week of school and they’re stressed and rushed,” said Ryan Dunn, Boardman Schools Transportation Supervisor.
Boardman Local Schools is short-staffed with bus drivers, and Dunn says the shortage is the worst it’s been in years.
“We’re short, and you know, there’s just — we’re going to be in trouble for the rest of the school year if something doesn’t budge,” he said.
So, how is this shortage impacting bus drivers?
They may have to drive more routes than what they’re used to. Some districts may be calling on other workers in the district to start driving buses.
“Myself driving everyday as well as sometimes my assistant Kathy,” Dunn said.
“Since we were so short, I got a third tier, so that puts me into another category of how I work,” said Christopher Mendenhall, a bus driver for Boardman Schools.
Mendenhall has driven buses in Boardman for 16 years. Adding another route to his schedule adds another hour of bus driving.
It also took him five years to become a school bus driver, but now, the shortage has sped up the process of becoming a bus driver, which many drivers have to pay for themselves.
“If you become a sub with us now, I say within six months to a year, you might have a contract,” Mendenhall said.
The shortage has caused drivers to be late to bus stops, upsetting some parents about getting their kids to school on time.
Drivers want parents to know nothing can be done until more drivers come aboard.
“It’s not that we’re doing it on purpose, but it’s just the beast of the nature right now,” Mendenhall said.
Boardman Local Schools will continue looking for more drivers.