School districts across Illinois grapple with a lack of school bus drivers

Date:

Share post:

(The Center Square) – As the school year gets underway, signs that read “school bus drivers wanted” are a familiar sight throughout Illinois. The nationwide driver shortage is being felt in the Land of Lincoln.

Numerous districts are forced to tier bus schedules, with buses making multiple rounds to prevent overcrowding.

“Due to the driver shortage, we had to change from two-tier schedule to three-tier schedule to use drivers on multiple routes,” Peoria Superintendent of Schools Sharon Desmoulin-Kherat said.

Parents in the Granite City area are being asked to find their children other means of transportation to school because of the driver shortage. This week, the district is providing bus transportation only for students in kindergarten through 4th grades, according to a letter on the district’s website.

All 5th through 12th grade students without a ride to school will be granted an excused absence and will be allowed to make up any work.

School officials are turning to mass transit for help. The district announced Madison County Transit will offer free bus rides to students through the end of the month. The three Granite City schools affected by the school bus driver shortage are along MCT’s current routes.

Some bus company officials attribute the shortage to mass retirements during the pandemic. Others point to Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s vaccination mandate for school employees. Scores of Chicago school bus drivers have reportedly quit because of the mandate.

East Aurora Superintendent of Schools Jennifer Norrell told the Chicago Tribune that some students are missing classes while others are sitting on buses for hours during hot weather due to the problem.

“It was a catastrophe,” she said. “We didn’t plan to have all those children and they sat there for hours hungry and exhausted.”

Decatur Public Schools are also dealing with a school bus driver shortage.

“We continue to deal with a critical shortage of bus drivers due to COVID. We know the late buses, and in some cases missing bus routes, are exceptionally frustrating, not only for parents but for our school as well,” the district said in a statement.

The Peoria school district has its own bus service, and Desmoulin-Kherat says they are offering more money to attract drivers.

“What we’ve done is offer a new driver sign-on bonus, which is a $500 sign-on bonus,” she said. “We already attracted seven new drivers and they are in training.” She added they are actively advertising for new driver as well.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Related articles

Michigan Hero Mom’s Fundraiser Raises Nearly $25K in 24 Hours

Kent County, MI - A fundraiser for Kadie L. Price, the heroic mother who died after saving her...

Chicago Weather Alert: Scattered Thunderstorms, High Swim Risk Near Lake Michigan

Chicago, IL - Scattered thunderstorms are expected to impact the Chicago area this afternoon into the evening, posing...

Quad Cities, IA/IL – Quarter-Sized Hail Expected Today, More Storms Anticipated Friday

A fast-moving storm system is expected to bring a 40 to 60 percent chance of thunderstorms to the...

Nashville Prepares for Sunny Week and Rainy Weekend Ahead

Nashville, TN - Middle Tennessee residents can look forward to a stretch of pleasant weather this week, with...