School bus driver flow stops short in Rapid City
RAPID CITY, S.D.- School bus drivers are in short supply, which has led to the cancellation of bus routes among Rapid City Area Schools.
Rapid City parents received notifications on November 28 that specific bus routes had been cancelled. “This has traditionally been an issue, for not only this district but districts around the nation,” says Coy Sasse, Director of Business and Support Services at RCAS.
So far, North Middle School, Corral Drive Elementary School, Southwest Middle School, General Beadle Elementary School, and Knollwood Elementary School saw impacts. What about routes in the future though?
“We’re really managing this on a day-to-day, week-to-week type situation,” Sasse says.
The shortage intensified rapidly, forcing officials to make a fast, tough choice. “Over the last 24 to 48 hours, we just had unique situations where we had multiple drivers that became unavailable for different reasons,” Sasse explains.
As the national labor shortage persists, and the local population continues to grow, driver shortages are expected to continue. “I think it’s a problem that’s gonna be around,” adds Sasse. “It’s been around historically and I don’t think it’s going to necessarily go anywhere magically over the next couple of years.”
That’s why Rapid City Area Schools are thinking of adding even more incentives. They already offer a free Commercial Driver’s License and training for those who apply. “If they don’t have a CDL, we’re happy to assist them with that, but obviously that takes a lot more time and is more more of a process to get them on boarded and moving forward, so the pipeline has continued to be slow,” says Sasse.
Even if drivers aren’t able to commit to the full time position, it’s possible to work as a substitute and lend a helping hand to steer the wheel when it’s needed most. “We want to do everything we can to make sure we’re putting parents in a good position, and we’ll continue to try to do that,” Sasse says.