ACCPTA is concerned about the school bus driver shortage in our district and the impact it’s having on students. As many as 27 drivers have been absent at a time for multiple reasons, which leads to buses arriving up to 90 minutes late, or not arriving at all in some cases. Students must wait for long periods of time both in the morning and the afternoon, and some don’t have reliable options for alternate transportation. Many students miss class due to late buses in the morning. We are concerned about student safety, learning loss, and potential equity issues.
We met with the district and learned about potential solutions they are working on, including:
- Developing a bid to privatize some of the transportation department, adding additional drivers to help fill gaps.
- Training at least one staff member at each school to be a substitute bus driver as needed.
- Researching bus capacity to see if routes could be reorganized or combined.
We also suggested some additional possible solutions:
- Providing free after school EDEP access for students who have to wait for long periods of time. During this time, a (paid) teacher could provide tutoring services for the students who miss class in the morning.
- Partnering with after school programs that have buses/vans.
- Making sure high school students are aware of options to use RTS bus routes at no charge.
- Working with schedules and routes to make sure the same students aren’t missing the bus repeatedly.
- Paying teachers or other school staff to serve as attendants on buses.
- Providing additional incentives for bus drivers.
We look forward to continuing to work with the district to develop innovative solutions that will help our county’s students!