Goddard school bus driver shortage causes district to get creative

goddard-bus

GODDARD, Kan. (KSNW) – A Kansas school district is in dire need of more bus drivers, according to a district spokesperson.

“It’s putting a burden on our teachers and staff. We just need more drivers,” said Goddard Public Schools Communication Director Dane Baxa.

Goddard Public Schools currently employs 62 bus drives. It needs eight more bus drivers to be fully staffed.

“I would call this a shortage. We are in need of drivers,” Baxa said. “We need substitute drivers, we need people to work full-time, morning and afternoon routes, evening routes and activity drivers.”

Baxa said some teachers have had to cancel or cut back on field trips because of the bus driver shortage. He said transportation staff, including some of his mechanics who have their Commercial Driver’s License (CDL), have had to drive bus routes.

“If you don’t have subs that can make it in, then you have office staff that hop on a bus,” Baxa said. “There may be days where we have to redirect phone calls to central office to answer phones because all hands are on deck at transportation to make sure we can get every kid to and from schools safely.”

The district has also been forced to consolidate its five bus routes to three bus routes. The consolidation has caused crowding on some of the buses. Baxa said some elementary students have to sit three to a seat for the time being.

Goddard Public Schools has rolled out a social media campaign to get help with recruitment. The campaign consists of videos that showcase a day in the life of a bus driver and the critical role a bus driver plays in a student’s life.

“We have actually had to pay for some social media ads this past month, which is the first time our district has had to pay through social media,” Baxa said.

The district is also offering a $500 bonus to bus drivers who complete a 90-day probation period.

Click here to apply for Goddard Public Schools.

KSN reached out to First Student Inc., the bus company the Wichita School District contracts with. A spokesperson said the company recruits bus drivers all-year round.

“For recruitment purposes, to reach kind of all over town we go to apartment complexes, we go to businesses, we kind of shop around and put our flyers down because a lot of people don’t realize one, that we are here and two, that we do paid training for school bus drivers,” said First Student Training Manager Renee Boydo.

Boydo said all of the Wichita school bus routes are covered, however there is always a need for more drivers.

“It’s a nationwide need when it comes to bus drivers in general, so Wichita is no different from that,” Boydo said. “We are using every available resource that we can to make sure all the kids are getting to and from school on a daily basis as well as making sure that field trips and sporting events are things that our kids get to enjoy here in the district.”

First Student is holding open interviews on Wednesday, September 21 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at 4141 North Seneca St., Wichita, Kan. 67204.

Click here to apply for First Student.

First Student Inc. and Goddard Public Schools will pay for drivers to get their CDL.

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