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Central Indiana school districts impacted by bus driver shortage

"Everybody will add to their route just so we are not leaving kids out on the curb in the cold."
School districts impacted by bus driver shortage
Posted at 8:39 PM, Jan 21, 2022

INDIANAPOLIS — Franklin Township Community School Corporation is feeling the ongoing effects of the nationwide shortage of school bus drivers.

The MSD of Pike Township had to switch to remote learning Friday due to bus driver illnesses.

“On a daily basis we are looking at about 8 to 10 people out, before that it was about 3 to 4 a day,” Franklin Township Community School Corporation Director of Transportation Todd Livesay said.

Transportation officials say they are relying on substitutes and parents to fill the void. They’ve had four parents apply in January alone.

Franklin Township says they need about 80 bus drivers to fill 97 routes. With the ongoing shortage, drivers are having to double back. Sometimes, that means kids are an hour late to their first period.

“A lot of parents will get together and help their kids get to school and carpool and things like that,” Livesay said.

Livesay says they do try and keep the doubling back to a minimum and will let parents know when school buses are running late.

This is where part time substitutes like Tim McVey come in and play a vital role helping the schools out. Substitutes can work up to 8 hours a day.

“So there are definitely challenges being short staffed. We don’t have the right amount of CDL drivers to able to get it done every day,” McVey said.

McVey comes in every morning before he works his full time job, regardless if he is needed or not. Substitute drivers can make $22.50 an hour.

“It is a very team atmosphere with the drivers that we do have, everyone has everyone's back, everybody will add to their route just so we are not leaving kids out on the curb in the cold,” McVey said.

He says he feels safe driving kids to and from school because of the protocols that are in place by the school corporation.

“It's a federal mandate right now that the students wear a mask on the bus as well as the driver so students have to wear a mask,” Livesay said.

There are other protocols in place, like sanitizing buses and making sure there are masks available if the student doesn’t have one.

If there is one thing that the pandemic has taught Livesay, it's that recruiting drivers still remains one of their top priorities.

“Even when this pandemic is over we need to make sure that we are recruiting, bringing people in, good people in, make sure they feel a home and make sure they understand that we are a family here, we have a purpose to take these kids to school,” Livesay said.

If you are interested in becoming a bus driver for the Franklin Township Community School Corporation, click here.