Some Daviess County Public Schools students are experiencing delays of up to two hours in the morning and afternoon as a result of the bus driver shortage the district is facing.
Delays range from 30 minutes to two hours, and they impact 10 of the district’s schools, and four of the district’s bus routes.
While these delays have the potential to impact between 30 to 50 kids per school, only 52 of the district’s students were late to school on Tuesday due to family members transporting their students themselves.
Families have been “fortunately understanding,” said Charles Broughton, DCPS director of student services.
“We are very appreciative of what our parents are doing to help get students to school,” Broughton said. “We are certain they feel the same as we do; the best place for students is at school and connected to our teachers in an in-person setting.”
While the district has dealt with some delays since the start of this school year, this one that impacted four of its bus routes began earlier this week. It is expected to continue through Friday, at least.
Students who are late to school due to DCPS transportation delays receive an excused tardy, Broughton said, and educators are working with students and families to ensure whatever assignments are missed will be made up and not counted against the student.
Schools also make sure students receive a breakfast meal upon arrival, no matter how tardy they are. Some of those options are “grab and go” meals.
The delays are a direct result of absences occurring within the transportation department, which already is understaffed.
“We are actively trying to recruit good people who care about kids and their safety,” Broughton said. “The bus driver shortage is not a new challenge to DCPS or districts across the state and country, but when you add traditional seasonal illnesses to the COVID challenges, any absences put more of a strain on transportation departments.”
To help alleviate some of this critical shortage the district has already combined some of its routes, and has had to make some adjustments to how it transports some groups of students, like preschool kids.
Typically preschool students would have traveled on their own routes in the past, but now they are riding home with their elementary student peers.
Anytime a preschool student is on a bus, a monitor is required to be present. Sometimes school staff members have to step in to fill that gap when needed.
Grady Cooper, DCPS transportation director, said there are still 30 open positions within the department, including driver and monitors. The district is continuing to take applications for both.
As a way to encourage individuals to apply for the positions, the district implemented a recruitment incentive program in August.
Included in that program are two $200 payments to any new hire, as well as paid training and assistance for the new hire to obtain their CDL. New hires are also eligible for a district benefits package.
Anyone who may be interested in joining the DCPS transportation department may visit daviess.ted.ky12.com/hire/index.aspx or call 270-852-7080 for more information.
Bobbie Hayse, firstname.lastname@example.org, 270-691-7315