FRANKFORT, Ky. — The Kentucky Department of Education (KDE) wants to make sure Kentucky children are provided safe transportation to and from school daily.
Kentucky, like many states and school districts nationwide, is navigating a bus driver shortage and wants to put passionate drivers on the road
“School districts have had to combine routes, eliminate routes, and we lose drivers every year,” said pupil transportation branch manager Elisa Hanley of the KDE.
Hanley said the reason for the shortages is unknown, but being intimidated by the size of a bus and or getting through the commercial driver’s license (CDL) and training process may be enough to keep people from applying for the job.
“Training is what it is. The entry level driver training by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is required. We have integrated that with our training so they won’t have to go into two training programs. It’s woven into it,” Hanley said.
This shortage is something she and others want to turn around. When asked about how they’re working to get more drivers hired, Hanley said they’re working on a few things.
She said she’s worked with the Department of Labor to get help with getting CDLs and apprenticeship opportunities in different districts to help those interested. They’ve also been doing community outreach in different communities to spread awareness that drivers are needed.
“There’s not a whole lot we can do other than to ask the community to please step up and help drive our students to their future,” Hanley said.
Hanley knows people want a job that provides fulfillment. This is a role she said has some negatives, but it’s quite fulfilling being a bus driver. She said bus drivers play an intricate role in student success and their daily lives, which is something that came to light in the pandemic.
“They were still there while people were at home. They were the ones bringing in the meals, they were the ones driving teachers past students’ homes to say hello and they do it with such passion and love for these kids,” she said.
If you are someone you know is interested in driving a school bus to help strapped districts, go to this website. The KDE has links to every district needing assistance.