School bus drivers a large priority for Tuscaloosa school districts

Bus driver shortage heading into new school year
Published: Aug. 2, 2022 at 10:23 PM CDT
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TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (WBRC) - Your children will be returning to the classroom over the next two weeks, but how will they get to school?

Several districts have been actively searching for bus drivers all summer long. Each of them have found their own way to ensure the routes will be staffed with a driver not only for next Wednesday, but throughout the year. Still, both Tuscaloosa City Schools and Tuscaloosa County Schools are still searching for additional drivers.

“We still have nine bus driver positions after tonight available,” said Tuscaloosa City Schools Transportation Director Ron Schappacher.

Tuscaloosa City Schools have eight additional applicants in training, and expect them to join the rotation over the next two months. In the meantime, trained staff will fill in, and some routes will be consolidated.

“So instead of maybe having 25 kids on the bus we may have 40 kids on a bus so it is a little more crowded then we want, but there is a 72 capacity on the bus. So we are still fine doing so,” said Schappacher.

The district is mailing out post cards with route information in the coming days, but they are not the only district using letters to inform the community on school transportation.

“We tried taking a proactive stance back in late March, early April and we sent letters home to every elementary student in Tuscaloosa County Schools. Just a letter that was written that tells the benefits of being a bus driver, the people we are looking for, the people that it helps or suits the most in their other career fields,” said Tuscaloosa County Schools Transportation Coordinator Craig Henson.

Because of that letter, Henson believes his district will only have one or two openings when school starts. Still they have another training class scheduled for the fall.

“We just concluded a class. Maybe a week and a half ago and we were thrilled to have about 20, and believe it or not we are going to need every one of those to cover routes when school starts. It is a never-ending process, we are always looking for good people,” said Henson.

Tuscaloosa County Schools does three classes a year, and they say the training is critical so they can keep their ranks filled. Typically they accept between 15 to 25 new drivers each year. If interested in learning more on the Tuscaloosa County School Bus Training program you can contact (205) 342-2636 or visit this website.

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