MAYFLOWER, Ark. – As the school year presses on, some districts in Arkansas still find themselves without bus drivers.
Mayflower Public Schools says it has been dealing with a bus driver shortage for years now and it doesn’t seem to be letting up.
“Here we all have to pitch in and help out where it’s needed,” Mayflower High School principal T.J. Slough said.
Right now, the district says it has two openings for bus drivers, positions that have gone unfilled since August.
“We only have 12 routes and so when you lose two bus drivers and you don’t have a lot of staff with CDL’s, it creates a big hardship,” Slough said.
To help fill the shortage, the district is calling on anyone on staff who has a CDL.
“Our superintendent has driven, we have probably 3-4 coaches that have also driven,” Slough said.
Slough said someone new is driving the bus 75 percent of the time.
“I don’t know what the reason is, why people are not wanting to drive,” Mayflower Superintendent Andy Chisum said.
Chisum says those similar questions are being asked in almost every position in education.
“From teachers to bus drivers, to food service staff, to substitutes, custodial staff, it’s been a challenge the last couple of years,” Chisum said.
For now, Chisum says the district is maneuvering through the sudden stops and turns.
“We took three routes down into two but they were busses that weren’t full, so we had space on there,” Chisum said.
He said he’s hoping the sudden call-ins will be few and far between soon.
If the shortage continues into the next school year, Chisum said the district may consider an incentive program to get more people behind the wheel.