Would You Believe A Shortage Of School Bus Drivers?
November 9, 1999
The humming U.S. economy is forcing some children to wait up to an hour for a ride to school. The pool of potential bus drivers has largely disappeared as fewer people pursue part-time work -- especially jobs that require them to discipline children.
- The trade magazine, School Bus Fleet, reports that more than 70 percent of the nation's school districts are struggling to find drivers -- with officials in 44 states citing the shortage as a problem, and 17 of them calling it severe.
- Some experts put the shortage of drivers nationwide at 20 percent.
- Some school districts and private bus companies are offering recruiting bonuses of up to $1,000 -- along with higher wages, longer hours and child-care services.
- Then they are adding cash prizes for referrals and good attendance.
Recruiting now involves radio and television advertisements, job fairs and even door-to-door canvases. Such is the downside of a full-throttle economy.
Those familiar with the problem say that substitute drivers are not the answer -- even if they could be found. Substitutes don't know the routes, don't know the children and have trouble keeping order. That is when accidents tend to happen, they warn.
Source: Jodi Wilgoren, "First Seat on School Bus Proves Hardest to Fill," New York Times, November 9, 1999.
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