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As the school year begins, some schools in Arkansas are experiencing a driver shortage



Little Rock, Arkansas – In some parts of Arkansas, districts are having trouble managing a lack of bus drivers as the new school year gets underway.

“I have one sub-driver at this time, and once all kinds of athletics, clubs, and organizations start up and with after-school trips, I’m going to be in trouble,” said Thayer R-II School District Superintendent Tonya Woods.

Bus driver shortages are nothing new for schools in Arkansas; according to some, drivers are departing the state faster than they can be replaced.

“We’ve lost five drivers from last year going into this year,” Cave City School District Superintendent Steven Green said. “Three to retirement, and two had situations where they couldn’t drive this year. We were only able to pick up one driver.”

Schools have been obliged to reduce the number of routes and load more children onto buses, which causes delays when picking up and dropping off students.

“We worked in the summer to condense those routes down from 20 to 18,” Green said. “Well, you imagine what problems that causes, so we’ve been working on social media, putting it out there that our routes are going to be different.”

If a driver isn’t available, Cave City and many other businesses will be compelled to rearrange workers to cover a route.

“We always ask our coaches to go and get CDLs so they can drive the trips to the games for the very reason we’re talking about,” Green explained. “Right now, we’re in a situation that we’ll have to ask a coach to miss practice in the afternoon.”

The district in Batesville has previously had a shortage but claims that this year is different.

“Shortening routes really helped us into preparing for the bus driver shortage that a lot for school districts are dealing with right now. We are fully covered,” said Batesville Public Schools Transportation Director Robbie Cox.

BPS compact routes were introduced by Cox, and they are currently functional.

“Our main focus was we had to reduce the number of routes we ran,” Cox said. “In 2019-20 we were running 42 routes. Today we’re running 31 routes.”

Schools asserted that they think fewer applications are being made since getting a CDL license takes more time.


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