Schools in desperate need of school bus drivers

Western School District is having to combine bus routes
Schools struggling with a bus driver shortage
Published: Apr. 29, 2021 at 4:41 PM EDT
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SPRING ARBOR TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WILX) - School districts across the state are struggling to get kids to and from school. Western School District in Jackson County said it is having to combine bus routes to make sure kids have a ride. That’s because there aren’t enough bus drivers.

The problem is so bad, Western is changing how it hires drivers.

“It’s gotten more difficult to find people that want to drive bus,” said Mike Smida, Western School District Superintendent.

Smida said that’s why the district is starting to outsource its drivers.

“For us it made more sense and giving that responsibility to another company which freed up our personnel to do other things with our transportation fleet,” he said.

Western’s transportation supervisor Steven Mills said training is sometimes what scares people away.

“But in actuality you can have one trained from the beginning to complete driving behind the wheel in a month to six weeks,”

Drivers do need to get a commercial drivers license which requires an inspection of the bus and a skills test. They also need to take a three day class on the rules for Michigan school bus drivers.

Marsha Gooldy said it was intimidating for her when she started driving 10 years ago.

“The biggest thing I had when I started was I was afraid to back it up because it’s so big. It took me a month to get the courage to finally come and talk to my boss and say I can do this,” said Marsha Gooldy, Western bus driver.

Gooldy started driving when her kids started school, which used to pretty common. Now, she said it was worth it.

“I like the people I work with. I like the kids. I just like it so I stay,” said Gooldy.

If you’re interested in becoming a school bus driver, just contact your local school and they will be able to help you get started. Some places are offering singing bonuses for school bus drivers, including Dean Transportation, Merts and Williamston Community Schools.

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