By Rick Palsgrove
A nationwide problem, believed to have been brought on by the effects of the COVID pandemic, has resulted in a shortage of commercial vehicle drivers, including school bus drivers.
This includes fewer school bus drivers at Groveport Madison Schools.
“We have a shortage of bus drivers now,” said Groveport Madison Superintendent Garilee Ogden. “It’s something every school district and superintendent is dealing with.”
Ogden said Groveport Madison currently has 51 bus drivers. Of those, four are on medical leave and six are still in training. She said the trainees should be ready to work by Thanksgiving.
She said Groveport Madison currently has 51 school bus routes, but in an ideal world, a district of this size should have at least 65 routes.
“With the driver shortage we can’t staff that many routes,” said Ogden.
She noted Groveport Madison has 79 school buses.
“We have the buses,” she said.
Ogden said all the staff members in the transportation department who have CDL driver’s licenses are out driving buses, including the receptionist and route manager. She said, because the transportation office staff is out driving buses, that is why at times there is no one in the transportation office to answer the phone when parents call in.
Adding to the problem, according to Ogden, is that Ohio House Bill 110 requires public schools to transport charter and private school students who live in their district. She said that means Groveport Madison is busing for 17 additional schools.
“That’s eight additional routes with multiple stops,” said Ogden.
The district also buses 106 McKinney-Vento Act students. The McKinney-Vento Act defines homeless children and youth as individuals who do not have a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence. It also includes students who are sharing the housing of other persons due to loss of housing, economic hardship, or a similar reason.
“This creates 19 additional bus stops,” said Ogden.
Additionally, she said, Groveport Madison has enrolled 1,334 new students this year, which adds to the busing needs.
Because of the fluid nature of enrollment and other busing requirements, bus routes can often change or more are could be added.