Minimal student impact the goal as IRSD addresses bus driver shortage

 

SELBYVILLE – Some families in the Indian River School District may experience minimal changes in drop-off and pick-up times as the district grapples with a bus driver shortage.

“The shortage of bus drivers has reached a critical stage and the district has no other alternative than to increase the number of double routes for our existing drivers,” IRSD Superintendent Mark Steele said. “This will likely result in bus schedules being modified for certain students in the coming weeks. Parents will receive notification from the school if changes are made to their children’s daily pick-up and drop-off times. We appreciate the community’s patience as we work to resolve this crisis.”

IRSD is actively recruiting bus drivers for the 2017-18 school year.

Due to the shortage, the Indian River School District may have to change school bus pick-up and drop-off times for certain students in the coming days and weeks.

“Basically, what has happened is one of our contractors is in a critical state and has lost several staff members since the beginning of the school year,” said Tyler Bryan, Transportation Systems Analyst for the IRSD. “They have turned in four of their routes to us effective Wednesday morning because they can no longer cover them because they don’t have the staff to do it.”

“Three of the four bus routes that were turned in came from the Georgetown area and one other came from the East Millsboro/Long Neck area. We are working it all out. We have a plan,” Mr. Bryan announced on Friday. “We are looking at about a 5-to-10-minute period of time change. We are going to have to get some buses to go a little bit earlier so they can drop students off at school and go right back out and pick up some more kids and drop them off the at the next school.”

In rare instances,  a few students may see a little bit more time change. “But we are not looking at 30 minutes, 40 minutes or an hour. We are not looking at any of that. We are keeping it as minimal as possible,” said Mr. Bryan.

Parents are being notified of any changes in bus schedules for their children. Letters to parents are to be sent out next Monday or Tuesday.

Geographically, Indian River School District is the largest public-school district in Delaware, encompassing 365 square miles. The district‘s student transportation networks includes three buses owned by the district, including a special services bus for handicapped children along with 162 buses through 40 contractors, Mr. Bryan said.

Roughly 9,000 of the district’s more than 10,000 students are transported by bus, Mr. Bryan said.

In addition, IRSD services other students in Sussex County through its countywide Howard T. Ennis School program.

“There should be minimal impacts. We just want everyone to be patient with us. We are doing our best right now to get their kids to and from school as safely as possible,” said Mr. Bryan.

Upward of 10 to 15 drivers would solve the shortage, Mr. Bryan said.

Anyone interested in becoming a bus driver should contact the IRSD Transportation Office at 436-1000 or email: tyler.bryan@irsd.k12.de.us.

All Delaware bus drivers are required to have a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) and School Bus Endorsement. The district and its bus contractors will assist interested drivers in receiving the training necessary to obtain a CDL and “S” Endorsement.

Applicants will be subject to pre-employment drug testing and criminal background and child protection registry checks.

 

News Editor Glenn Rolfe can be reached at grolfe@newszap.com

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