Perrysburg School District suffers from bus driver shortage, loo - News, Weather, Sports, Toledo, OH

Perrysburg School District suffers from bus driver shortage, looking to hire

(Source: WTOL) (Source: WTOL)
PERRYSBURG, OH (WTOL) -

Right now, Perrysburg school leaders are asking for help.

The district is in desperate need of bus drivers, and it's impacting parent's schedules and teacher's ability to educate students. 

Anyone interested in can apply here.

One mother, Abigail Curtis, said her 15-year-old son didn't get to school until after 10 a.m. on Monday, two hours later than normal.

She said with her and her husband working, it is tough for them to adjust and take him to school. Curtis understands the district is looking for help and hopes they can figure out this shortage soon.

"We've seen it for a couple years, but nothing to the extent we have this year. This year has almost gotten to a crisis," said Aura Norris, the Executive Director of Human Resources and Operations for the district.

Recently, everyone with a commercial driver's license, including, mechanics, dispatch and even the director have been out driving the routes for Perrysburg schools with this shortage.

This doesn't leave anyone to answer the phones when parents call, so they've had to get more secretarial help.

Right now, the district has four routes that aren't filled on a daily basis.

Perrysburg leaders said the number one priority is getting kids to school safely, even if it takes a little longer.

District leaders said they are desperate to get drivers in the door and start training.

"Perrysburg has been spoiled over the years because we're a destination district, people want to come here and work and to be honest with you, we haven't had to work real hard to recruit people in the past, and that has all changed," said Norris.

Superintendent Tom Hosler sent an email to parents outlining the issues they are facing.

Good Afternoon Families,

As some of you who have been directly impacted already know, Perrysburg Schools-along with the rest of the country-is experiencing a bus driver shortage. Adding to this challenge is the explosive growth we are experiencing in Perrysburg Schools. Leading up to the first day of school, bus routes had numerous adjustments as families continued to register students. Every new student added to a bus changes the bus route.

The media has reported a CDL (commercial driver's license) shortage at the national and local level. Perrysburg Schools is experiencing a bus driver shortage crisis. Unfortunately, this is effecting our operations.

What this means to families is that, while we are working to cover these shortages, there may be delays in picking up students or the need to combine routes, which may have a different bus and driver picking up a child temporarily. When this occurs, we will communicate the information to families as soon as possible.

We are only in our fourth week of school and we have had to utilize all available staff with a CDL to cover daily routes. This impacts our ability to cover drivers who become ill or have to take time off. This year, we have four routes that are not filled on a daily basis. We only have six substitute bus drivers and several of them are not available to drive every day because of their schedules or other jobs. Frequently, our transportation director, two mechanics and transportation dispatcher are pulled from their other responsibilities to cover bus routes, and we still have come up short-handed. Last year, due to the shortage, there were athletic and special trips where we could not provide a driver and bus. While we did pull other staff to cover daily routes last year, it typically did not threaten our ability to cover routes to and from school.

For example today, we had no additional staff or substitutes available to cover Bus 2 and so those students had to be picked up after another driver's regular route and the students were picked up 90 minutes late and then brought home 20-30 minutes late. We have also been required to double up on some routes this week, causing delays for those families as well.

Perrysburg Schools has 42 bus routes that serve our seven school buildings each day. The school district transports over 2,700 students and logs over 2,200 miles each day to do so. By law, Perrysburg Schools is responsible to provide transportation to resident private school and charter school students when deemed practical. This year, the school district transports over 300 resident students who attend these schools. Including PENTA Career Center, the school district transports to 12 other schools or programs outside our school district daily. We partner with a neighboring school district to help share costs and to utilize fewer drivers with these daily trips.

The time it takes to train a bus driver from their first day until they can drive by themselves takes approximately 6 weeks. Our Human Resources Department continues to be aggressive in advertising for drivers. Our wages are very competitive for drivers and substitutes. The substitute rate is $18.30 per hour; contracted route pay is $20.56 per hour. With a one-year commitment, the school district will pay for and help drivers obtain their Class B Commercial Driver's License (CDL) and their school bus passenger endorsement. For more information, please visit:http://www.perrysburgschools.net/HowtobecomeaBusDriver.aspx

We do have two trainees who will be taking their first test that will enable them to start training with a bus driver. We are still two to three weeks away from having these two behind the wheel of a bus.

We have asked some of our neighboring school districts if they have any drivers we can use until we can train more ourselves and we have been told no, because they are experiencing the same shortage. We are also evaluating other options from various transportation providers, but are learning they too are short on drivers.

In the meantime, we are doing our best to notify families as soon as possible when regular bus routes are interrupted.

We apologize for the inconvenience this has already caused many of you and assure you that we are working very hard to remedy this situation as quickly as possible for the long-term.

Sincerely,

Thomas L. Hosler

Superintendent

Perrysburg Schools

Perrysburg leaders attribute the shortage to a nationwide shortage in workers with CDL's, and the low unemployment rate.

These bus drivers make 20.56 an hour, working two hours in the morning, and another two in the afternoon.

Just working 4 hours, they aren't eligible for benefits, but if they are a recess monitor or another job in between, they can be.

Applicants must pass a background check and love children.

The district has a notification system they are working with to notify parents about a change in their student's bus schedule, but understand the frustration.

"I'm sure that if you're a parent and you're ready to go to work and you just get a message that your son's bus is going to be 45 minutes late that doesn't make you happy, but at least you know," said Norris.

Norris says no students will be penalized or counted tardy because of this.

She says most parents have been understanding, but if they do have issues she encourages them to call the bus garage.

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