Northern Michigan School Districts in Need of Bus Drivers
There is a nationwide bus driver shortage, and many school districts in northern Michigan are affected.
Mount Pleasant Public Schools have 16 bus drivers to cover their 16 routes, but they need more, especially for their sub-pool.
“The sub-pool isn’t necessarily what you would think of a driver missing a route. They would be able to pick up special trips like field trips or athletic events,” said Jennifer Verleger, Superintendent at Mount Pleasant Public Schools.
The school district also wants to bring back the bus routes that stopped three years ago in city limits.
“We want our students in our buildings in our classrooms, with our teachers all day, every day. So the fact that we can’t always provide transportation we know is a hardship,” explained Verleger.
Traverse City Area Public Schools is also feeling the driver pinch.
If they don’t get enough drivers, they will condense their bus routes, putting more kids on each bus.
“What that does it increases wait times and don’t want a long ride time for a student when they get out of school to wait to get home or when they’re picked up in the morning have to be real early,” said Dr. John VanWagoner, Superintendent at Traverse City Area Public Schools.
Both districts are doing what they can to get more people behind the wheel by increasing pay, offering more benefits and helping drivers get their CDL license.
“The bus driver is the first person that our students see every morning and the last person that they see when they get off the bus at the end of the day. So they really set the tune. They’re a big part of the success of our students and of our school community,” said Verleger.
And you might see the Traverse City Area Public Schools superintendent driving a bus this year. He is in the process of getting his CDL license.
“I have great training, and I have a great appreciation for what people do for our kids and our community and our school district each and every day,” said Dr. VanWagoner.