“Desperate” need for school bus drivers continues as the first day of school for many WNYers looms

Education

(WIVB) — Transportation experts say the school bus driver shortage in the state is at a critical level.

“Seventy-nine percent of our members characterize the shortage as severe to desperate,” said David Christopher executive director of the New York Association for Pupil Transportation.

Christopher, says there’s a 15 to 20 percent school bus shortage that spans across the state.

“I don’t think it’s something that’s going to be settled before school starts. We are hearing that unemployment insurance is running out and at some point, it may help us,” said Christopher.

To maneuver around the shortage, the Buffalo School District delayed the start of after-school programs.
The Niagara Falls City School District has made some modifications as well; they’re even offering a full day of work for folks who sign up.

“A bus driver works two hours in the morning and two hours in the afternoon,” said Mark Laurrie, Niagara Falls City School District Superintendent. “We’re offering to hire those individuals at the school district to work in our kitchen or work in some other capacity during the middle of the day so you get a full eight-hour day.”

The president of the Erie-Niagara Superintendents Association says parents should try to be patient as the various districts in the region grapple with shortages.

“I’d encourage parents to stay in close communication with their teachers and their school administrators. Any of these accommodations that superintendents might ask families to make and kids to make aren’t for a lack of effort on anybody’s part,” said Michael Cornell president Erie-Niagara Superintendents Association. “People are working really, really hard to return our schools to normal operation.”

Angelica Morrison is an award-winning reporter who has been part of the News 4 team since 2019. See more of her work here.

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