The School District of Lee County is warning parents whose children take the bus to school to expect delays at the start of the upcoming school year because a school bus driver shortage persists within the District.
“If you know anyone who wants to drive a bus, you know, I’ll keep saying it ‘til the cows come home: We need more drivers,” said Interim Superintendent Ken Savage.
This issue is not unique to Lee County. School districts statewide and nationwide are dealing with a critical shortage of bus drivers.
“We are going to have buses that are late or buses that are delayed for a significant amount of time,” explained Rob Spicker, the District’s assistant director of media relations and public information. “It’s just the way it is.”
Spicker said the District is still short at least 100 school bus drivers, and school begins Tuesday.
The gig pays $16.32 per hour with benefits, but it’s a bad time to hire and no one is pursuing the position openings.
The school district will do its best to keep buses well sanitized, but because of the shortage, current school bus drivers will need to double up routes.
“Buses are the place where social distancing is the least possible,” Spicker said.
That’s why the District is encouraging parents to weigh all options ahead of the start of school.
Nicole Fitzpatrick has five children attending Lee County schools.
“I’m lucky enough to where I can wait until they get on the bus to be able to go to school,” Fitzpatrick said. “But again, there’s not a lot of families that have that ability to do that. You have single moms; you have single dads; you have parents who require that two-income family, and they’re working.”