FWCS exploring solutions as bus driver shortage goes from bad to worse

Local News

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) — The school bus driver shortage has continued to be a major headache for local school districts.

On Monday, Fort Wayne Community Schools experienced one of its worst days for transportation.

Monday morning, FWCS posted on its Facebook page that many of their bus routes were running “extremely late” because of the bus driver shortage.

FWCS’s spokeswoman Krista Stockman described the situation as “extremely bad”.

FWCS had many call-outs of bus drivers Monday morning and did not have enough bodies to fill the gaps. It created a domino effect after the middle school routes were delayed, which resulted into a two-hour delay for one of the high school routes.

Stockman said after waiting two hours, most students did not bother waiting – they either found another ride or they just went back home. Even though students weren’t counted as tardy, they were missing out on class time, which creates more issues for the district.

This has been a problem for the past few years and seems to get worse and worse as time passes. Stockman said the district has been forced to get creative to fill the gaps of the shortage.

“We’re going to be asking employees who are not working in transportation right now. So [the employee] could be working in our school buildings, central office staff, anybody really. If they would be willing to drive a bus, we would be willing to look at some creative schedule for them or compensate them additionally,” Stockman said.

Back in October, WANE reported that FWCS was suffering from a shortage of teachers and substitute. Now the district is becoming more strained as it works to keep up the staffing to meet demands.

“We’re even looking at things like, we have these small buses that are mainly used for athletic events or sporting events, you don’t have to have a CDL to drive those,” Stockman said. “So is there a way that we can have non-CDL drivers use those buses for certain routes, smaller routes, and then take the drivers who do have CDLs and put them on larger routes. That is something we are exploring right now.”

Stockman said that the district tries to inform parents as soon as a route is delayed, but sometimes it’s hard to know in advance which route will be delayed.

Stockman said the district does not want to cancel routes, and it is actively looking for solutions. She said the district is doing all it can to avoid having students waiting outside for buses too long.

FWCS asks for continued patience as it works through the matter, Stockman added.

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