Indian River School District Taking Action on School Bus Driver - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Indian River School District Taking Action on School Bus Driver Shortage

Posted: 09/14/2017 18:19:00 -04:00 Updated:

SUSSEX COUNTY, Del. - The Indian River School District has a plan in place to handle the impending school bus driver shortage.

Superintendent Mark Steele says one of their bus contractors lost six drivers and as such, he had to give up four of the district's routes, which carry roughly 240 students. Those buses are being covered by spares for now, but the district hopes to have more manpower as soon as possible.

"Our concern is knowing that our other contractors are in the same boat with spare drivers," says Steele. "That if we don't get people who go through to get their license that this isn't going to be the first time or the last time that this happens."

Three of the routes are in Georgetown. The other is in the East Millsboro/Long Neck area. IRSD Transportation Systems Analyst Tyler Bryan says the impact will be minimal.

"We are looking at about a 5-10 minute time frame difference on some bus routes," he says. "Some buses are going to go into school a few minutes earlier, drop off their kids, and then go pick up more kids. Same in the afternoon."

Bryan says they're in they're finalizing what routes and students will see those changes that are set to begin next week.

"The goal is to have names to the contractors by tomorrow or Friday and then form letters between Friday and Monday," he says. "So that by Monday our goal is to have parents notified what bus and what time their students will going be on a new bus on Wednesday morning."

Steele says most parents have been understanding, but some have expressed wishes that drivers get paid more--something he says is out of their control.

"The state has a formula: the bus route is going to get paid this much money. The contractor can use that money and decide what he needs for operating expenses of the bus and what he can pay the driver to drive that bus," he says. "We don't make that call."

Bus contractor Keith Johnson says recruitment has been tough. 

"It's a very rewarding career as a school bus driver," he says. "However it takes details to get through the process to become a school bus driver and sometimes people are burdened with the details."

He and his wife Rebecca--who is also a driver--say it's incredibly rewarding. They're hopeful by getting the word of the shortage out that more people sign up to drive.

"I feel in the end it's going to work itself out. I'm optimistic that it's going to turn out to be positive," she says. "Right now it's kind of like you're going through a speed bump and you're trying to get over that speed bump. But eventually it will work itself out."

Anyone who is interested in becoming a bus driver should contact the IRSD Transportation Office at (302) 436-1000 or tyler.bryan@irsd.k12.de.us.. 

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