Parents are frustrated for their kids who are stuck riding on the bus for hours and getting home late after school bus delays, but the School District of Lee County is begging for patience and said leaders warned buses wouldn’t be on time because of a shortage in drivers.
We already knew about the driver shortage, but now, we know bus drivers are also quitting. That’s why, although District staff has worked hard to hire new drivers with some success, they’re still short 100 bus drivers, as they were several weeks ago.
It was the third day of school Thursday, and it was also the third day of late, rerouted, overcrowded school buses in the Lee County school district.
We spoke to Roger Lloyd, the director of the Lee County school district’s transportation department, to find out what the next steps are to solve these issues.
“There is light at the end of the tunnel,” Lloyd said. “I do believe so.”
Lloyd said he knows this has been awful for parents, and it’s been awful for his people too.
“I can tell you nobody here on my staff likes this,” Lloyd said. “We’re all stressed.”
The District has sounded the alarm about its driver shortage for weeks. Lloyd’s team hired a good number of school bus drivers over the last several weeks, but close to the same number – 20 – have quit because they weren’t comfortable driving unmasked students.
“So, as we tend to hire new drivers, we have in the last couple weeks also seen a rise in resignations,” Lloyd said.
Lloyd does believe this mess is going to get cleaned up, at least in part. He said the first two weeks of school are always tough, and the District is in the process of training about 15 new drivers.
We asked Lloyd when he and his team will know things are looking up.
“Probably by the first week of September, we’ll have a real good indication of how we are going to be able to do this, if this is going to work out,” Lloyd said.