CLEVELAND — It’s getting hard for some Ohio school districts to keep school buses on the road.
Roughly 9 out of 10 of Ohio’s 714 school districts are being impacted by a bus driver shortage, COVID or both, according to Doug Palmer, Transportation Consultant, Ohio School Boards Association.
“Our transportation departments are hanging by threads,” said Palmer.
Palmer said transportation experts could see the problem with bus drivers coming down the road, but the pandemic has magnified the problem.
“We’ve been having more retirees than hires so our driver pool has shrunk,” said Palmer.
Palmer said this is a statewide problem.
In Euclid, 25% of their drivers are off the job because of COVID or COVID protocol. District officials have asked the governor to deploy the Ohio National Guard to help transport children.
Bedford City School District wants to hire about a dozen drivers but so far can’t fill the positions.
So, everyone in the district who has a CDL license and the proper credentials is being pressed into service.
“Our routing specialist is driving every day, our secretary, our mechanic, our custodian, mail carrier, even I’m driving,” said Pat Carney, Bedford City School District Transportation Supervisor.
Roughly 750,000 Ohio students ride school buses daily. Palmer said about 15,000 routes have been canceled or consolidated.
The Governor’s office is now looking at ways for the state to help the districts in need.
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