A charter school principal, Alyse Pennington, said DPS buses, which take her students to and from the school, have dropped kids off in the morning more than half an hour late for the beginning of school, and buses have come to pick kids up more than two hours past the time school let out.
Lolli said routes have been added and adjusted and will continue to do so over the next few weeks. The district is also hiring more bus drivers and paraprofessionals.
“Overall, the second week has seen improvements in transportation, and the district is confident those improvements will continue,” Lolli said.
Silverthorn is also the director of the Ohio Association for Pupil Transportation and talks to districts across Ohio about busing. He said many districts are seeing similar problems.
He blamed the issues on ongoing workforce issues, and a change in the state law last year that put more burden on public school districts to bus students to charter and private schools.
Montgomery County Education Services Center superintendent Shannon Cox says she thinks there will be more shortages coming to the state.
Cox said many districts are already competition with Amazon and FedEx for drivers, as bus drivers in Ohio have to have a commercial driver’s license, the same level of license required to drive a semi-truck or deliver packages.
Because those drivers are in such high demand, school districts have struggled to compete. Cox said she thinks adding Intel, who plans to build a new campus in Licking County, will make the shortage harder unless something is done.
Cox said the first weeks of school are always difficult, but workforce issues have made figuring out a new school year harder.
“It’s always a guessing game, but it’s a bigger guessing game now because of workforce issues,” Cox said.