Solution Found for Driver Shortage
We are happy to announce that the District 103 Board of Education held a special meeting on August 25 to address the school bus driver shortage. The Board approved an increase to the starting hourly rate from $22.40 an hour to $26.00 per hour. The Board also agreed to increase the guaranteed hours a driver works from four and a half hours a day to seven hours per day.
With these recent changes, we have seen an influx of applications for our school bus driver positions. To date, we have interviewed seven potential candidates with two more interviews scheduled this week. We have extended six offers of employment. We are thrilled to update our families that two new trainees will begin this week.
Understandably, to ensure our students' safety with new drivers, the training process takes time. For a driver who has no experience and does not hold a commercial driver’s license (CDL) or school bus permit, this process could take up to four weeks. For a candidate who already holds their CDL and school bus permit, the onboarding process can take approximately three to four days as we assess their driving, pre-trip skills, and give the trainee an opportunity to practice their new route. The district also ensures that the new trainees are well prepared in the area of special education transportation, emergency procedures, and medical conditions of the students on their routes. Every driver is certified in First Aid and CPR.
Unfortunately, some families will continue to experience bus service interruptions while our new trainees go through the onboarding process. Driver absences continue to affect our department. Our routes with students with special needs are given priority when it comes to covering route shortages. To ensure consistency in most of our routes, we avoid changing drivers wherever possible.
We are rotating through two morning Sprague runs due to the lack of available drivers. Routes 8 and 10 are switching every other week until a new driver is in place. Prior to the board meeting, we were able to combine routes where only one morning run was left without a driver. Rotating those two runs offers families some regularity in their planning.
We continue to revise and adapt our schedules and routes to transport as many students as possible each day. Once our staffing is complete, these issues will be resolved. Until then, we thank you for your patience and for working with us through this driver shortage.