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Retirements and more requirements: Why rural Iowa school districts are facing a bus driver shortage

Posted at 7:08 PM, Jul 27, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-27 20:08:42-04

GRISWOLD, Iowa. (KMTV) — For cities like Griswold, whether it's driving kids to school or filling a bus with activities like football and basketball games, both are big endeavors and it takes the right kind of person to operate the wheel.

"It's not a full-time job. It's not 8 hours a day. A person's gotta work two to three hours in the morning and two to three hours in the afternoon, so they have a limited ability of what they can do in between," said Superintendent David Henrichs.

The Atlantic Community School District is also struggling to find drivers. They have eight route bus drivers and a few substitutes, but the superintendent wants to hire at least two more.

"The lion-share of our bus drivers are probably retirement age. They're aging too and they get to a point where they don't want to do it anymore," Atlantic Community School District Superintendent Steven Barber said.

The transportation director for Griswold says their biggest obstacle when it comes to hiring more drivers is all the requirements.

"All the new rules that came into effect this February in 2022 of the new ELDT training. Entry level driver training, there's a lot of classroom time and time spent getting your license which is hard for drivers to have the time to do it," said Transportation Director Jeb Peck.

In Griswold, they've had occasions where they take vans instead of buses to make up for a lack of a certified driver. They also pay bus drivers more than $23 an hour. This is a $2 increase from the past with hopes to retain the drivers they have and get more to apply.

Barber holds on to the same hopes.

"We're looking at trying to be optimistic about different things and getting highly qualified staff hired," Barber said.

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