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SCCPSS lays out plans for bus driver shortage, talks potential for future incentives for employees

Published: Jul. 14, 2021 at 3:25 PM EDT
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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - The Savannah-Chatham School Board continues to battle struggles over bussing for the incoming school year.

It’s estimated about 5,000 students who rode the bus previously will not be able to this year because of a driver shortage according to district leaders.

You can see the district’s full transportation plan below:

Right now the district has 241 drivers for the incoming school year, but their last transportation year they had close to 300.

It’s because of this shortage they say they are only able to provide transportation to their special education, English speakers of other languages, homeless and zoned school students.

That’s about 20,500 students, but only 7,000 of them have filled out the registration form online which is needed to secure a spot.

Of the responses so far 1,000 have declined transportation which helps the district as they have more needs in the elementary grades then they can accommodate.

Transportation leaders say they have been working on bus routes for this coming school year since they got out of school last year.

But it’s a challenge with limited drivers.

The lead director of transportation says they have seen application request increase in the recent weeks, and are working to recruit with several events and inactivates, interviewing six days a week and training those who are ready.

They also are looking at adding signing bonuses and have implemented bonus pay for current employees too. Officials say they have reached out to CAT to help with this transportation issues, but they face the same issue.

District leaders say they are competing with all industries for workers.

“This is not a budget issue, we have the budget. If we had the drivers we could pay them. This is not a bus issue, we have the busses we just got an award for how great our fleet is and this is not at least my intent and I don’t think the intent of the district or any board members to stop busing choice students. I know some people it is not applied correct I think some people in the community think that this is just us oh and now we’re going to get rid of choice bussing. This is a workforce issue, just like it’s a workforce issue across the city, the county, the country,” said District 6 SCCPSS Board Member David Bringman.

“I think this is also a money issue. We have repeatedly raised our pay, but so has everybody else and I contend for raising our pay even more. I fully support the retention and recruitment financial bonuses and considerations that we’re doing,” said District 4 SCCPSS Board Member Shawn Kachmar.

District officials say as efforts to increase their force continue this plan will be in place throughout the first semester and be readdressed at the start of the new year.

Transportation officials say they will continue routing through the start of the year, looking for ways to optimize it. They do say it’s critical families with kids in priority groups 1-3 fill out that transportation registration which was sent to families.

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