Bus Driver Shortage Leaves Nearly 1,500 Robbinsdale Students Without Transportation
A new school year is leading to a new host of problems in the Robbinsdale Area School District due to a shortage of bus drivers.
“We’ve really had quite a difficult day and a half here for our families and students,” said Jeff Connell, Robbinsdale’s executive director of facilities, operations and transportation. “We are short 12 bus drivers for routes that didn’t get covered.”
As a result of those routes not being covered, district officials say that 1,486 students didn’t get bus transportation Wednesday morning.
Robbinsdale recently signed a contract with Durham School Services bus company to provide service, but the company has had difficulty recruiting drivers.
To help fill the gap, the company has flown in bus drivers from other cities.
In the meantime, the district is asking many parents to drive their own kids to school as they look into different options such as rerouting current bus routes or having students take Metro Transit busing.
But district officials say the most effective thing they can do is step up recruitment efforts.
“For the next week and a half this is going to be the pain that we have to live with,” Connell said. “And then after that, as I see the drivers coming through the system, getting licensed, getting trained, going through orientation, doing all the testing, we’re going to have more drivers and we’re gonna make this work.”
District officials say that Durham is offering sign-on bonuses and benefits such as health care, vacation, sick leave and 401(k).
The district provided this statement to parents:
Due to the bus driver shortage, which is affecting our district and other districts, the transportation company contracted by Robbinsdale Area Schools, Durham Transportation Services, shared with us that they are short 12 drivers. This impacts 39 routes for 1,486 students across the district.
Impacted bus numbers include: 1, 206, 212, 230, 233, 244, 245, 246, 238, 226, 36, 63.
I’m writing to you to ask for your assistance in transporting your student to and from school beginning tomorrow morning through the end of the week.
Please know we are doing everything possible to secure drivers for all routes. Also, we will be as flexible and accommodating as possible during this time. If you are unable to transport your student and they are absent, the absence will be excused. If they need to come to school late or be picked up early, they will not be marked tardy or absent.
For families who cannot provide transportation, please know that your middle school and high school student can access work through Schoology. If you haven’t picked up your student’s device, please call your child’s school to make arrangements to pick it up.
Because elementary students do not have devices assigned to them, it means they will not be able to participate in school activities unless they are present at school.
I know you will have more questions. Please submit them through Let’s Talk. Additionally, we will send out frequent updates throughout the week to ensure you have as much information as possible. Our goal is to have this resolved as soon as possible.”