(WJW) – If you happen to drive around Kenston Schools, you may see a yard sign with a message from the district:
“If you are a bus driver, we are hiring.”
Kenston Schools Assistant Superintendent Jeremy McDevitt says a bus driver shortage is nothing new for their district. It’s been a problem for almost three years.
“We have 25 drivers for 25 routes so that doesn’t leave us much wiggle room,” said McDevitt.
To adjust, the school system has condensed bus routes from 35 to 25.
They are also working to raise wages, offer free training to attract interest and advertise their bus driver openings as much as possible.
They’ve even recruited some of their own to drive a route when needed.
“We’ve used our mechanics, we used grounds workers, we even had a teacher driving a route earlier this year,” said McDevitt.
But this week, school officials sent out a letter confirming a new and permanent way to deal with the ongoing shortage.
If a driver calls out sick, the families whose children use that route will have to get their kids to school on their own that day.
“If we’ve exhausted all options and then we get a call off, say bus 25, that would be the bus we’d contact those families and say, “We are sorry, but you have to transport your children,” McDevitt said.
To help these families out, each school will open early to help parents on their way to work.
Also, if the family can’t find a way to get their child to school that day, it will go as an excused absent.
“The community has been understanding thus far and we hope to not keep doing this,” said McDevitt.
While McDevitt admits the system is far from ideal, he says it’s the best they can do for a problem that has no end in sight.
His message to the community is, “Just be patient with us. We are doing the best we can. If you know people that are interested, send them our way.”