Michigan Experiencing School Bus Driver Shortage
The wheels on the bus go round and round, round and round, round and...The wheels aren't going anywhere without drivers. Student safety has been a big issue through-out the pandemic. Now the problem is getting kids TO school. Michigan is experiencing a school bus driver shortage.
David Meeuwsen, Executive Director of the Michigan Association of Pupil Transportation told WXYZ,
"Currently people are not even applying to be school bus drivers. They’re getting some applicants, but not near as many as they need.”
Meeuwsen says every district in the state is looking for drivers. Some have had to alternate between routes, telling parents their kid only gets a ride 2 weeks each month. Letters were sent to parents last spring explaining the shortage.
Assistant Superintendent of Finance in Rockford Mike Cuneo says,
"It isn't a budget issue. It's a supply issue."
To combat the problem, Rockford Public Schools have taken away some routes, combined some routes and combined some stops in certain areas. During the pandemic, some long-term drivers decided to retire. Combined with stricter testing for employment, and more steps and tests involved to get certified means it'll take more time to get behind the wheel.
According to the Michigan Department of Education, bus drivers were added to the state’s critical shortage list of public school personnel in 2016. They remain on list today.
To become a bus driver you will need to: Become certified and trained. Pass a school bus knowledge exam. Pass the driving test in a school bus. Have a clean criminal record. Have a clean driving record. A PDF of the official qualifications can be found here.