Fayette County School Board addresses school bus driver shortage

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Officials are concerned the about driver shortage as more students return to in-person classes.(WDKY)

LEXINGTON, Ky. (WDKY) – Fayette County Public Schools has been dealing with a bus driver shortage for several years, made worse by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The district has 283 positions for drivers and 35 vacancies. School officials are worried about not having enough drivers as more students return to school. In person classes started yesterday for grades K-2.

“91 percent of those that indicated they would return in person returned,” said FCPS Interim Superintendent Marlene Helm. “So we had 8,868 Kindergarten through second graders actually back in the building and we believe that number is going to increase.”

Of the district’s 41,000 total students, about 19,500 ride the bus to school. Officials said those buses are a huge safety concern, and they want the right candidates to fill the open drivers positions. During a FCPS board meeting Monday, Feb. 22, district COO Myron Thompson noted applications for bus drivers are down 75 percent. He said that is due to current unemployment incentives and concerns regarding COVID-19.

The district had 17 transportation employees test positive for COVID-19 last Spring. Several were hospitalized and one ended up dying.

FCPS has not had any bus routes go without drivers. Other employees in the transportation department, like mechanics and those who design the routes, are also trained to drive the buses. However, district officials said that is not a long-term solution.

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