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School Districts Across Utah Facing Bus Driver Shortage

Aug 13, 2021, 6:43 AM | Updated: 6:44 am

AMERICAN FORK, Utah — School districts across the state are struggling to fill key positions as the school start dates draw closer.

With only a couple of weeks left, Alpine School District officials said they’re short 50 bus drivers. The district said it’s made drastic changes by combining routes and extending hours, meaning some students will have to get up much earlier to catch the bus.

“We are having to drop kids off a little bit earlier than we would like,” said Joe Hayes, director of transportation at Alpine School District’s Eastern Division. “And picking them up a little later than we would like. And we are doing things called double runs where a driver will take a group of kids into a school and then turn around a pick up another group of kids and bring them right back to the same school.”

Alpine School District employs 239 bus drivers but needs 20% to 25% more to fully cover its routes. In a single day, the team transports 23,000 kids to and from school.

The district is also looking to hire bus aids to help students get on and off the bus in situations where that is needed.

“We have a lot of routes for our special needs students and we love to have attendants on those routes when they are available,” said Hayes.

Other school districts said they’re facing a similar hiring crisis. Officials with Weber County School District said they have enough drivers but no fill-ins, which also puts them in a tight spot.

Alpine School District officials said they primarily rely on word of mouth for their recruiting efforts. Many of its drivers are part-time and people who retired from other industries. The positions start at $20 per hour and are usually between 16-35 hours of work per week. To qualify, people need a good driving record and the ability to earn a CDL certification. It’s otherwise an entry-level position.

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School Districts Across Utah Facing Bus Driver Shortage