Bus driver shortage continues to be a struggled for JDC School District

Published 11:50 am Thursday, February 10, 2022

The bus driver shortage continues to plague the Jefferson Davis County School District. “It’s a day-by-day struggle,” said JDC Superintendent Ike Haynes.  Currently, the district remains short 10-12 drivers.

Bus drivers in Jefferson Davis County went on strike Jan. 21 after the school board approved paying $25 an hour to emergency drivers as an incentive to help with driver shortage. A special board meeting was called that evening to rectify the situation and a $20 an hour pay raise for bus drivers passed unanimously. In hindsight, Hayes says he should have issued the incentive and given a pay raise to current drivers all in one comprehensive package. “I give much respect to the bus drivers that go out and get the kids every day and they do a great job.”

Even after the incentive, the district still struggles. “We are in a better position, we did gain some, but we are not where we need to be. It is a work in progress.”

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According to Haynes, every school district across the country is dealing with the same type of issue. “The issue is the CDL, the specific license that they have to have is a hot commodity.”

That is why Haynes reached out to teachers and coaches that already have that particular license. “Someone might be in a position to need a second job, so I thought that would be an enticement that would get us more drivers.”

Some drivers in the district have three or four routes with children getting home as late as 6:30 p.m. “We still have late buses, and kids being held in the classroom or gym to wait on a bus to get them.”  This is also a real problem for working parents who can’t depend on a certain time for the students to leave in the morning or get home in the evening. “It really affects the school day and really affects the parents trying to get to their workday. Until we get this remedied, it is going to be a problem.”