RAVENNA, Ohio (WJW) — A shortage of qualified bus drivers continues to plague school districts across the region and the country, and the crisis has reached the point in one district where some students have missed class time.
Bus drivers in the Ravenna School District are trying to make up for the shortage by doubling up on routes, and employees, including the district’s transportation director, mechanic and secretary, have been pressed into service as bus drivers.
Ravenna residents like retired teacher Rose Reyes say the driver shortage is a sign of times.
Reyes told FOX 8, “there are jobs going begging, but I also think the work ethic in our country among a certain age group has greatly changed.”
When asked in what way? Reyes responded, “they don’t want to work as hard or as long.”
On a number of school days, the shortage of bus drivers in Ravenna forced the district to cancel certain routes, and students who could not make it to school, were given excused absences. On another school day, the driver shortage caused a route to be delayed, leaving a group of young students waiting on a bus for an extended period.
“It’s very sad, education is one of the most important investments that a nation can make,” said Reyes.
In response to our questions about the situation, Ravenna Schools Superintendent Dr. Laura Hebert issued a statement that reads:
“The driver shortage is not unique to Ravenna, or the State of Ohio. It is a national problem that all school districts are facing. Driving a bus, serving as a bus aide, or being a substitute bus driver or aide, is an in-demand job impacted by the number of people retiring or opting not to return to the workforce after COVID.”
The district says new bus drivers are now being paid just over $17 an hour, and supporters of Ravenna Schools say, like so many other professions with a shortage of qualified applicants, money is the key to solving the problem.
“Nurses and bus drivers and some teachers are underpaid, I think they should be paid a decent compensation. People have to figure that out, they just have to figure that out,” said Reyes.
In response to the shortage, Ravenna Schools are trying to attract new drivers, by posting information about job openings on the district’s website and social media pages.