PEORIA, Ariz. — More than a dozen schools in the Peoria Unified School District had one or two fewer buses Thursday because of a bus driver shortage, leaving parents needing to pick up their children.
They’re not the only district suffering from the lack of people signing up to drive buses.
10 routes canceled Thursday and Friday
A spokesperson for Peoria Unified School District told 12 News that 10 routes were canceled at 16 elementary and high schools in the district for Thursday and Friday.
The district is opening schools earlier and keeping them open later to try and help families out as they work out a way to get their students to and from school.
“We recognize the inconvenience the cancellations cause our families and we appreciate their patience and understanding,” A spokesperson told 12 News in part of a statement.
The district is continually hiring bus drivers and is also offering a $1,750 stipend for recruitment and retention stipend to keep drivers and get more of them. That stipend is offered to those hired by Sept. 30.
Parent Lindsey Fisher picked up her fifth-grade son from Country Meadows Elementary School Thursday. He usually takes the bus, but Fisher said it was one of the ones that were canceled.
“He uses the bus to get to and from school and I don’t have anyone to help me so I hope they get it figured out soon,” Fisher said.
Dysart raising bus driver wages
The shortage of bus drivers is touching Dysart Unified School District as well.
On Wednesday, the district’s governing board approved a wage increase for bus drivers from $16.81 per hour to a tiered pay scale that starts at $20.00 an hour.
“It’s an extremely hard job that we felt compensation was what it needed,” Doug Curry, director of transportation in the district said.
Curry said he’s short about 20% of the bus drivers he needs.
“It definitely impacts everything and impacts the entire operation,” Curry said. “So drivers are doing turnarounds which are kind of double runs at almost every school.”
Curry said the district has not gotten to the point of needing to cancel bus routes.
“It is impacting the community and the parents because we’re running late,” Curry said.
Current employees are also being offered $500 for recommending employees that are hired and stay working for Dysart. Dysart’s job openings can be seen here.
Schools across the Valley impacted
School districts across the Valley told 12 News they too are consistently hiring for bus drivers.
Litchfield Elementary School District sent a letter home to parents that certain bus routes will be changing because of the bus driver shortage starting next week.
A spokesperson for Paradise Valley Schools said their bus drivers are doubling and tripling their routes to help keep getting students to and from campus. The district currently has 38 open driver positions.
Gilbert Public Schools’ Governing Board recently approved a bonus for each hour bus drivers transport students in the district. A spokesperson also said they’re rearranging routes to try and keep pickups and drop-offs efficient.
Scottsdale Unified School District also said their bus drivers are doubling up every day on certain bus routes right now. They’re working to hire more drivers at a job fair next Thursday and Friday.
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