NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - School districts in East Texas have been experiencing a shortage in bus drivers recently. Social media postings and signs put up in communities are all trying to send potential candidates one message: bus drivers needed.
Drivers passing Nacogdoches High School will notice a school bus sitting next to Stallings Drive. Just as there’s no driver in the bus, Nacogdoches ISD director of transportation Stacy Lampkin says there’s a shortage of bus drivers in the school district.
“There’s a big need for drivers," Lampkin said. "Right now, I’m probably twelve or thirteen drivers short.”
He says that with this many vacant positions, drivers have to make extra efforts to get students where they need to be.
“It makes it tough trying to cover routes on a daily basis, to cover your routes, field trips, extracurricular activities, all those kinds of things,” Lampkin said.
His isn’t the only school district facing the challenges of this shortage. Central ISD Director of Operations Joe Collmorgen says they’ve been having this same problem.
“When we have someone that’s out, when we have field trips that pull drivers from their regular routes, we’re having a hard time filling those substitute driving positions as well.” Collmorgen said.
Both Collmorgen and Lampkin say that this shortage may be due to a changes in how bus drivers get certified.
“Primarily it’s because of the licensing procedures that we have to go through now,” Collmorgen said.
The process once could be done quickly. Now, it ends up costing potential bus drivers more time and money, the two say.
“When I got my license, you had one written test and one driving test," Lampkin said. "Now, you have to do five written tests and then one driving test behind the wheel.”
In spite of these challenges, Collmorgen and Lampkin say they hope for these vacancies to be filled as more people become aware of the need for drivers.
“Educating the public about these positions and getting more people interested in driving a bus for these local school districts, I think that’s going to help," Collmorgen said.
Other school districts who have confirmed a need for more bus drivers are Tyler ISD and Lufkin ISD.