SPRINGDALE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) – A national shortage of school bus drivers is resulting in missed routes and classes for students in northwest Arkansas.
Tina James has a daughter in the Springdale School District. She said getting her daughter to and from school often disrupts her work day because of cancelled bus routes.
“I think the first thing the parents have to do is get on the same page and make sure the parents know when the kids are or aren’t going to have a bus, so they can try to make sure their kids are getting where they need to be,” she said.
James said she has had to miss work a few days or go in late in order to get her daughter to school on time when the bus does not come.
Springdale Transportation Director Kevin Conkin said a bus driver shortage results in 4-10 cancelled routes every day.
“Notifications is the hardest thing we face. This is something that all districts are newly trained to do,” he said. “if they don’t see it in a text or see it on the website, those kids may stand out there for an hour.”
James said this is not only a concern for her own kid, but others as well.
“I know a lot of the kids depend on school for breakfast,” she said.
Conkin said if a student shows up to school late, administrators are notified so they can make sure students who need breakfast are still fed.
Both Conkin and James said- still- the lack of drivers and added inconveniences for parents is disappointing.
“It’s very disheartening for families. It’s very concerning to me because in the past, school districts have had transportation departments that they can depend on, like the mail man,” Conkin said. “It is no longer so.”
Conkin said this has been an issue since 2015 but what was a struggle then is a crisis now, due to COVID-19.
Fewer people want to drive the buses out of COVID-19 concerns and with 70% of the school’s drivers at high risk of infection, it is hard to keep them driving the buses during a pandemic as well.
If you would like to help the Springdale School District and apply for a job to drive a bus, click here.