Area school districts ‘desperate’ for staff as bus driver shortage continues

The need for licensed CDL drivers behind the wheel is not a new issue but schools are getting desperate in tackling this nationwide bus driver shortage.
Published: Feb. 15, 2022 at 6:48 AM CST
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MONDOVI, Wis. (WEAU) -While having a lack of bus drivers may not be unusual the severity of the shortages during the pandemic has been challenging for school districts nationwide.

The latest call to action in the area comes out of the Mondovi School District. Medical leave issues coupled with retirements has the district stretched as thin as possible, struggling to cover the 10 morning routes and 11 afternoon bus routes.

Late last week, the district put out a plea on Facebook for bus driver applicants willing to get behind the wheel for a single shift or to ‘only drive occasionally, we’ll take what we can get,’ the post reads.

Jeff Rykal, superintendent at Mondovi School District says the situation is dire, if any other issues arise they will be struggling to not only have drivers in the seats, but with getting students to school on time.

“We are maxed out on our substitute drivers for various reasons,” Rykal says with upper management having to help ease the shortage. “Even our middle school high school principle Darin Gray, he’s licensed and has had to jump behind the wheel a few times to keep the wheels rolling.”

“We have our alternate plans in play too of having to combine routes but that’s going to mean longer bus rides for kids you know which is not what we want either,” Rykal says. “So we’re hoping people in the community and surrounding communities can see that and maybe come to our aid.”

Student Transit serving the Eau Claire Area School District says they are on the brink as well, noting that for every 5 to 10 applicants they get maybe 1 driver is hired. Licensed Student Transit upper management continues to drive routes on a daily basis.

The Chippewa Yellow Bus Company says they are also facing a severe shortage, telling WEAU their president has been having to pick up routes on a consistent basis for nearly two years.

Across the board none of the districts have had to consolidate routes yet but that is a looming possibility if they are unable to keep drivers behind the wheel. They ask to please reach out to your surrounding school districts to see how you may be able to help in keep getting that precious cargo to school on time.

To learn more about bus driver applications for the Mondovi School District please call Shelly at 715-926-3684, option 2.

To learn more about driving with Student Transit see here, or Chippewa Yellow Bus Company, see here.

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