Oregon school districts continue to struggle with bus driver shortage
PORTLAND, Ore. (KPTV) - As students return to the classroom, school districts around Oregon continue to struggle with a shortage of bus drivers to ferry them to and from school.
The Beaverton School District, for one, will continue to rely on employees who aren’t regular drivers to fill in to cover bus routes, which was the practice last school year.
“I was driving most of the school year,” said Rusty Bingham, Operations Supervisor for the Beaverton School District. “Our administrator was driving most of the school year. All the supervisors, office staff. Everybody that normally might not drive was driving to make sure kids could get to and from school.”
Beaverton made it work and didn’t have to cancel any of its bus routes, but that wasn’t the case for Portland Public Schools.
“We were short drivers all year,” said James Appelhanz, a driver and radio operator for Portland Public Schools. “It was pretty standard to get those ‘not covered’ routes on a daily basis.”
PPS regularly canceled bus routes through the end of last school year, much to the frustration of parents. Appelhanz remembers taking their phone calls.
“It ran the gamut from thanking me for being there to answer the phone to being so frustrated that they just hung up,” said Appelhanz.
A spokesperson for PPS said the district will be able to cover its bus routes this school year, but that some routes will have to be extended because of staffing issues.
Both the Beaverton School District and Portland Public Schools are actively recruiting new bus drivers. PPS transportation contractors offer a starting wage of $31 per hour.
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