Kettering could change school bus routes because of driver shortage

Kettering school officials are alerting parents to the possibility of combining bus routes for some students if the district is unable to fill bus driver positions. The district is just one of many across the country struggling to find school bus drivers, a challenge that has worsened with low unemployment.
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Kettering school officials are alerting parents to the possibility of combining bus routes for some students if the district is unable to fill bus driver positions. The district is just one of many across the country struggling to find school bus drivers, a challenge that has worsened with low unemployment.

Kettering school officials are alerting parents to the possibility of combining bus routes for some students if the district is unable to fill bus driver positions.

The district is one of many across the country struggling to find school bus drivers, a challenge that has worsened with low unemployment.

MORE: Kettering schools considering combining bus routes with driver shortages

Kettering notified parents with a letter Tuesday that the district is experiencing a crisis in filling bus driver positions.

“As many in our community may be aware, school districts across the state and the nation are experiencing a significant shortage of school bus drivers, and the Kettering City School District is no different,” the letter stated. “With the crisis we are currently experiencing in filling bus driver positions, this very well may have to begin happening yet this school year.”

Due to the shortage of drivers and sub drivers, there may be delays in picking up students in the morning and dropping students off after school, district officials explained. The district said it will inform parents if and when any adjustments may need to be made.

The announcement from Kettering comes as districts across the state and national are experiencing shortages of bus drivers.

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Kettering School District Director of Transportation Todd Silverthorn says 60 percent of schools in the country are experiencing a bus driver shortage.

“I spoke with my colleague at the National Association for Pupil Transportation (NAPT) and the 60 percent is from the 2018 survey that was done. They do not have the results from the 2019 survey yet,” he said.

With the economy, people who were driving buses have been able to find other jobs.

“We noticed when the economy started to improve, that the folks who were looking for any job to make ends meet were now applying for the 8-hour-a-day jobs that often come with full-time benefits,” Silverthorn explained. “By its very nature, school bus driver jobs are part-time positions. I have noticed that the applications over the past couple of years have greatly decreased. I also feel that we do not have a strong pool of retirees applying for part- time jobs, as in year’s past.”

The school district says they will continue look for drivers and will provide training to employees who do not have experience in the field.

“Those who possess a Class B CDL with a P and S endorsement are preferred, but this is not required,” Silverthorn said. “No experience is necessary, we will provide training to help a person obtain their CDL, and we have certified school bus trainers on staff who can provide on-the-job training for the drivers.”

District officials are asking parents to share with family members and friends that may be interested in training to become a bus driver to consider coming to the school district’s transportation department.

Immediate interviews are conducted Monday through Friday between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. at the facility, 2640 Wilmington Pike. The district is also hiring for bus aides at the same location.

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