OHIO — The struggle to capture school bus drivers continues as school districts look to fill vacancies before the next school year starts.
David Bowlin, director for the Office of Field Services and Transportation at the Ohio Department of Education, said a number of trainings are held throughout the year.
“Usually, the class lasts anywhere from about four to five days, and with work with the school district, they can get drivers certified quickly; but getting bus drivers to that point has been the challenge and those are the areas in districts right," Bowlin said.
Getting drivers isn’t the only challenge districts are facing. In October of 2021, the Ohio Department of Education implemented a transportation compliance law. That law now means ODE will monitor and make sure that school districts are providing appropriate and legal transportation across the state. Even so, the bus driver shortages make it tough to comply.
“What we saw over this past year was they struggled to fulfill all of their routes," Bowlin said.
Still, school districts are now tasked with reviewing their transportation responsibilities and resources, and updating the department on those in writing to confirm they’re prepared for the upcoming school year, so that they’re not pegged as non-compliant.
For now, Bowlin doesn’t believe the shortage issue is going away quickly.
“I think it's going to continue to be challenging. But we do encourage school districts to continue to try to be creative, try to consolidate routes, try to be useful in their resource management, and try to do everything they can to get as many bus drivers out there as possible.”