Bus driver shortage cancels classes at Edwardsburg Public Schools

NOW: Bus driver shortage cancels classes at Edwardsburg Public Schools

EDWARDSBURG, Mich. – The bus driver shortage at Edwardsburg Public Schools is being felt in the classroom.

The district announced shortly before 6:00am on Tuesday, December 13, that classes were cancelled, after two bus drivers called in sick.

The district then announced the following Wednesday would be an e-learning day too “due to a high number of absences in the Transportation Department,” according to an announcement from Superintendent Jim Knoll, that also noted not all of the absences were health related.

“It’s tough right now,” Knoll told me.

According to him, the district started off the year with around twenty bus drivers, and that number has started to shrink, leading them to have to fill in the gaps wherever they can.

“Our bus administration people are driving, our maintenance people are driving—our bus maintenance people—so we try everything,” said Knoll. “We’ve combined routes to try and make everything happen this year.”

Knoll added the district cannot go without having their bus services available for the 1200 students that need it.

“We’re not an urban district,” he said. “We’re a very rural district so many of our students come from multiple miles away, so for them to get here without our help would be very difficult.”

The district is actively working to hire more bus drivers, but they’re struggling to fill positions.

“I’d take as many bus drivers as I can get,” Knoll said. “We have hiring incentives, we’ve changed our payment plan, given bonuses for people who recruit. We’ve done all the normal things people have done. Our economy is pretty strong here. When the RV industry is eating up a lot of those drivers and can pay them quite a bit more, it makes things difficult.”

He said that without bus drivers, parents may have to anticipate their kids staying home more often.

“We anticipate that we’ll be dealing with this throughout the school year,” Knoll said. “That’s nothing new, we’ve been doing this for three or four years now since we’ve been short drivers. But we’re going to do the best we can.”

I have reached out to numerous parents throughout the district. While none spoke on camera, many were understanding toward the problem, and while many themselves were or had a spouse that worked or stayed at home, most expressed concern for those who were not as fortunate.

If you are interested in learning more about becoming a bus driver at Edwardsburg Public Schools, more information can be found here: Apply For A Job – I Want To Menu – Edwardsburg Public Schools

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