Several school districts cancel, delay bus routes due to bus driver shortage

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WOOSTER, OHIO (WJW) – Three school districts, including Streetsboro, Wooster and Bay Village schools, were forced to make changes to school bus routes Monday due to a shortage of bus drivers.

The Wooster City School District superintendent said delaying several routes impacted the schedules of 400 students.

“Instead of having subs available, or more drivers that we can kind of push into those positions, unfortunately we don’t have that,” said Superintendent Gabe Tudor. “We have to be creative and figure out ways that we can still get the kids to school.” 

Streetsboro City Schools announced they could not provide busing for one route because of staff shortages due to sick calls. 

“We recently held a district-wide job fair and have interested candidates, but as I am sure you know, the process for becoming a licensed school bus driver is lengthy,” said Cynthia Deevers, Director of Student Services for Streetsboro City Schools. “We are continuing to look for qualified candidates to help address this shortage long term.”

A message on the Bay Village City School District website states they were unable to staff routes for Normandy, Westerly and BMS.

In a written statement to FOX 8, Interim Superintendent Char Shryock said, “The number of drivers out today exceeded the number of subs we have available, so for the first time this school year, we had to cancel one bus route. We anticipate this to be a one-day problem, with our subs returning tomorrow. And as of Monday, Nov. 22, we will again be fully staffed with a new driver starting.”

Tudor said when they do not have any staff absences, there is no shortage of drivers. However, when the issue arises, drivers often double up bus routes instead of canceling. 

“These are the positions that literally we don’t have anybody to drive,” said Tudor. “So what we are doing is we having bus drivers take full routes to school, and then go back out on the road and do a second route. It’s a true doubling up a route, so that’s what’s happening in these situations.”

Doubling routes can delay students’ arrival to school by 20 or 30 minutes. Tudor said it can ultimately result in 10 minutes of missed class time.

The issue in Wooster could soon be resolved now that people are applying for available driver positions that would join the team of 30 drivers. Tudor cautioned applicants who do not have a commercial driver’s license take longer to train and hire due to the certification process.

“We’re starting to see people in the community step up,” he said. “We, for the first time since the start of the school year, received applications for bus driving last week.”

Tudor thanked the staff for working hard to accommodate late changes and said he understands the disappointment parents can experience when delays are announced.

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