SOUTH WINDSOR, Conn. (WTNH) — The school bus driver shortage in South Windsor is serious enough that the Board of Education held a special meeting on Sept. 9.
“It is still a worry every morning at 5:30. We are up wondering if we’re going to have enough drivers every day,” said Superintendent of Schools Dr. Kate Carter.
That concern continues today.
Normally, they have 33 routes with 36 drivers which provides for a few substitutes but at that time, they had 25 routes and 25 drivers, which means they had to consolidate routes with no substitute drivers and that worries parents as well.
“My older daughter is getting transport but we are getting an update that every day, anytime, if anyone called sick the bus has… because they don’t have any substitutes, so they have to take it off and then you have to manage your own transport,” said South Windsor Parent Deepti Wadhwa.
Because of this situation, DATTCO had made the unprecedented move to offer a huge signing bonus: $7,000 for licensed school bus drivers which would have been funded by DATTCO and the town.
But they now tell News 8 they got no applicants who were licensed drivers so they have since changed that back to a $3,000 signing bonus for licensed and unlicensed school bus drivers who they will train.
It takes about 16 weeks before a new driver can get behind the wheel of a bus with students on board and that’s because they have to undergo background checks, fingerprinting, and a lot of training.
DATTCO may not expect to get back up to full-staff until the end of the school year but in the meantime, the bonus may help steer them out of the current struggles.
“Although it sounds like a daunting number to get 36, if we got to 28 or 29 quickly, it would make a significant difference,” said Jim McMellon, who represented DATTCO at the special Board of Education meeting.
“Thinking positive definitely,” said Wadhwa who says hiring new drivers would help out her family. “Very much of course.”
It would also help many other families who would have their own struggles if they had to drive their students to school each day.