Local, National School Districts Feel Impact of Bus Driver Shortage | News, Sports, Jobs

In the school year when most things returned to normal after the pandemic, challenges such as the nationwide bus driver shortage remain for both national and local schools.

The bus driver shortage is nothing new this year, it has been increasing since the beginning of the school year. In fact, often schools may find themselves somewhat understaffed at the start of the year, but nationally, counties are estimated to be short of drivers at 30-50% of drivers currently this year.

The shortage is estimated to be caused by many things that cause general labor shortages, such as low wages, stress and general pandemic concerns. COVID-19 variants are still around, and the school bus is one of the many places where the disease can spread most easily.

Locally, the shortage at Panama Central School hits schools across the country similarly.

“Like most schools, it affects Panama” Former Panama Inspector Bert Lictus said. “We’re talking to local people who might be interested in driving for us. We’re working to be able to help with training and certification. We hope it works, but it’s not an easy fix. Training as a bus driver can take a lot of time. It’s a difficult situation.”

To become a bus driver, you must have a commercial license. “s” or school bus approval. A “p” or passenger approval is also required. The state is currently waiving the 14-day waiting fee between taking the written and driving test for employees to earn their CDL license to help make up for the deficiency.

At Randolph Central School, concerns about shortages are high, but the school is willing to work to help those seeking an education fill in the gaps.

“Randolph Central School, like any other district, is concerned” Inspector Kaine Kelly said. “For the last two or three years we have been taking proactive measures to train drivers to keep the squad full. At the moment, we only have the amount needed to start the academic year. We don’t have many drivers. I have published it as a permanent job posting for those who want to train. We welcome anyone who has a license and can drive, and we are ready to work with them to get there. We also have a contract that drivers must drive with us for a certain period of time.”

Even in districts that are currently in good standing in terms of driver numbers, more are needed.

“Although last year was difficult, we are doing well this year” Cassadaga Valley Superintendent Chuck Leichner said. “Our roster is good this year but we can always use a little more. For now, it’s still good to go.”

Some school districts, such as Westfield, also do not currently experience significant shortages.

“We are lucky that we don’t have any major shortcomings at the moment” Said Inspector Mike Cipolla. “We are trying to keep enough spare drivers on hand. We also train drivers, but we currently have enough staff and are able to meet all our needs.”

Yet the fight for other local school districts continued.

“We have been short of three pilots since the beginning of the year” Joseph Reyda, Bemus Point Manager, said: “We continue to look for relevant people. We do our best to work with parents to get kids to and from school in every building every day. Sporting and after-school events in Maple Grove are a huge challenge.”

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