CHANDLER, Ariz. — Valley schools are starting off the new year with more staff shortages. The Chandler Unified School District is one of several pushing to fill open positions as soon as possible. Among the openings in Chandler are school bus drivers, custodians, special education teachers, paraprofessionals and groundskeepers.
CUSD said they’re looking to fill around 30 bus driver openings. The shortage is something the district has been dealing with for about five years now.
Chandler transports about 12,000 students every day. There are 200 buses on the road back and forth from school, field trips and sporting events.
The shortage means drivers have to do double backs and combine routes. Tom Dunn, Executive Director of Support Services, said the problem started before the pandemic.
“We haven’t canceled any routes," Dunn said. "We still provide full service transportation, but because of the shortage it does take longer at times to get students to the events, to school, home after school because we do have to double up our routes and double back to pick up students, combining routes to larger routes we normally would prefer."
David Thiele, the CUSD Director of Transportation, said they were able to hire about 45 drivers last year. But in any given year they can lose another 30 to things like retirement, medical or finding a different job.
Chandler officials said they're actively recruiting in-person and online. The job offers full benefits if driving 30 hours a week and they provide on site license training. The schedule is flexible with mornings, afternoons and evenings. Pay starts around $21 dollars an hour.
Another issue the district is having is a two-year delay in receiving new buses. There are 45 on back order because of supply chain issues. Thiele said the driver shortage has been going on for about five years, but they’re really feeling it now heading into 2023.
“I think right now is the toughest point," Thiele said. "We’ve actually had to consolidate routes to help with the shortage for many reasons, just on a resource standpoint.”
Thiele said they’ve chartered buses for certain routes and sporting events. And they’ve even trained teachers and coaches to drive the smaller activity buses to and from events.
The shortages are not just a Chandler issue. They're happening around the Valley and throughout the country too. To apply for one of the above positions, visit the CUSD website.
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