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NOTEBOOK – ONE GOOD READ: Why there’s a school bus driver shortage


We’ve all seen the banner signs hung off the side of a parked school bus advertising that a district is hiring drivers. The request for drivers doesn’t just occur before the start of a school year anymore, it’s now a year-round need. And in some states, the driver shortage has become so severe that National Guardsmen have been deployed to drive the buses, reports Zachary Crockett for the Hustle. A recent national survey showed that 81% of school districts didn’t have enough bus drivers to fill their needs and more than half of those districts described the shortage as “severe” or “desperate.” When the pandemic began and schools moved to remote learning, school bus drivers were furloughed or laid off, writes Crockett. Now that most schools have reopened, drivers are opting not to return to the jobs because of the fear of getting COVID from students who haven’t yet been vaccinated. In addition, school bus drivers typically work long hours for low pay. Nationally, school bus drivers earn an average of $16.80 an hour. In areas where retail giant Amazon Inc. has a presence, people who previously drove school buses now are delivering packages or filling orders. “People are opting for better-paying jobs, and our severely underpaid education sector in Floridan is not equipped to compete,” one union representative told Crockett.

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