WESTERVILLE, Ohio (WCMH) — Local school districts continue to face transportation challenges, and many are halfway into the school year.
Two central Ohio districts had to make adjustments Tuesday.
For Westerville City School District, it’s something they’ve done regularly over the last couple weeks as part of a two-prong strategy to keep kids in school as much as possible.
How many drivers are available? That’s the question Westerville Transportation Manager Randy Snyder considers every day.
“One of our strategies with Westerville City Schools to keep our students in their learning environments is to adjust the school day,” Snyder explained.
He has a two-part strategy to work around the bus driver shortage the district faces.
First, an urgent message is broadcast across the district’s social media accounts.
“Delay one or more elementary schools by one hour, which allows more drivers to cover additional elementary routes for us and ultimately transporting more students per day,” Snyder said.
The second option? Call for early dismissal for middle and high school students.
Snyder said it has really helped them, recalling a moment a few weeks ago where he said drivers stepped up.
“We had over 50 drivers covering additional assignments which is above and beyond their daily assignments — that could be an additional high school run or middle school, an additional elementary run or even shuttle between buildings that connect students with their inbound and outbound buses,” he said.
Right now, out of Westerville’s 101 routes, there are four that need a driver.
Pickerington Local School District is also facing a shortage. It has 65 routes with seven unfilled.
The district moved to virtual learning Tuesday because of a spike in COVID-19 cases among the bus service office staff and transportation was unavailable.
The district issued a statement with the details about lack of transportation saying, in part:
“Regarding calamity days, all calamity days will be virtual learning days this school year for Pickerington Schools’ students. But, keep in mind that this is not a new procedure for Pickerington Schools. We started this calamity day procedure during the 2020-21 school year and announced that it would remain in place at the beginning of this school year. The latest announcement was a reminder: https://www.pickerington.k12.oh.us/news/calamity-day-process/”
Both districts are actively hiring with incentives and referral bonuses.
“If we could hire 15 more drivers between now and the end of the school year, that would put our district in a very good position not only get the rest of this year covered but also to carry us into future school years,” Snyder said.
Click here to learn about the openings for drivers at Westerville.
Pickerington Local Schools works with Petermann Bus LTD for transportation services.