MADISON CO., Ky. (WDKY) – School districts across the state have reported bus driver shortages for several years.
One of those districts is Madison County Public Schools, where Monday is the first day of the year for quote-on-quote “normal” bus routes. It’s the first week high schoolers are back all five days.
“It’s a worry, it’s something we are constantly thinking about and it’s a challenge that we’re trying to overcome,” says public information officer Erin Stewart.
Stewart explains there are currently enough drivers to cover the existing routes, but no substitute drivers. She says certified staff, including transportation director Shane Lakes, have been filling in.
“It’s getting worse,” Lakes says. “We are doubling up five or six routes about every afternoon. About every mechanic I have is driving a bus. We try to leave one in each garage, one in Richmond, one in Berea in case we have something we have to go service a bus, but we are in desperate in need of drivers.”
“Being a bus driver is one of the most important jobs we have in the district. You are often the first face that someone sees in a day and the last face you see in a day. It’s a job that can give a bus driver a reward,” Stewart says.
Stewart says they’re always looking to fill positions for the person who sets the tone for the entire school day.
In Fayette County, the board of education responded to shortages by approving extra pay for bus drivers and monitors.