School bus driver shortage continues to affect Sioux Falls schools

School bus driver shortage continues to affect Sioux Falls schools
Published: Nov. 18, 2021 at 6:47 PM CST
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - The ongoing bus driver shortage that’s affected School Bus Inc. and the Sioux Falls School District has not improved as the year has gone on, according to the district.

School Bus Inc. is still looking for drivers to help fill the need for routes within in the district, as driver shortages have affected when students are picked up and arrive at school. The company said that while they’ve hired some drivers in the past month, they’ve also lost some. And that’s continued to limit how soon they can fill those routes.

“We run roughly about 80 some routes a day. And right, just the pure number of staff that they have hired to be able to run those routes with the bus drivers, are sitting at about 70, 71, 72.” said Sioux Falls School District Assistant Superintendent Jamie Nold.

School Bus Inc. Vice President of Business Development Steve Hey said in a phone interview that the company is still looking for 18 to 20 drivers to join on. The company is now starting drivers at $19.50 an hour. The company is also offering a $4,000 sign-on bonus for applicants that already have a CDL, and $3,000 for those who don’t.

But while the company is finding and hiring applicants, it’s not enough to immediately step in and fill all of the routes within the school district. Nold said solutions need to be found soon to cover the routes, as the winter months will make it more challenging for families to keep up.

“We don’t want to leave it to a chance that we’re cutting it close, as far as coverage. We want to make sure that we have things, and that we’re able to communicate. So we’re going to really work closely with the bus company, and try to get some of those plans in place.” said Nold.

Nold said the district plans to continue to meet with School Bus Inc. on possible solutions, to make sure every student can reliably make it to school on time. While he said those plans haven’t been finalized yet, the district is hoping to let families know by next week at the earliest, so they can plan ahead.

“Some students will be there a little bit early, and we’ll supervise those students at the school. Or maybe that, there may be one day a week, or one day every other week where the bus isn’t going to run for this specific route. But at least they’ll know that in advance, so that we can save those drivers and run them for other routes.” said Nold.

Both Nold and Hey said that if anyone is looking to become a bus driver or know of someone who does, to either contact the district or School Bus Inc.

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