Bus driver shortages affecting Nacogdoches schools, charter services

Bus driver shortages affecting Nacogdoches schools, charter services
Published: Oct. 11, 2022 at 7:11 PM CDT|Updated: Oct. 11, 2022 at 7:24 PM CDT
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NACOGDOCHES, Texas (KTRE) -A nationwide bus driver shortage is now affecting a local school district in transporting their students to Friday night’s football game. This shortage is also affecting charter bus companies who school districts use as a back-up plan in situations like these.

“They have to leave with ample time to get everyone there within time to warm up, and practice ahead of time. That puts buses having to leave in the midst of bus routes that have to take place, carrying students’ home from all of our schools,” Windham said.

There are 35 full-time bus drivers employed at NISD, and it takes 11 buses and drivers to transport everyone to the game.

“Even if we have enough actual buses, we don’t have enough actual bus drivers to spare in the midst of the regular bus routes that take place on Friday afternoons,” Windham said

The district reached out to several charter bus companies to see if they can accommodate the number of buses the district lacks, but they were unable to get any.

Angela Steelman, Managing Director with Tri-City Charter, says this is because they are also experiencing a shortage of drivers for their business.

“Especially in the bus business, driver shortages have always been an issue, but it was definitely was more exacerbated by the pandemic. I don’t know if maybe it’s because the shortage of work here pushed people into other industries or because we cater to large groups of people; if people, who would be in traditionally a very niche type of career, maybe they are afraid to be in those large groups after the pandemic, I don’t know,” Steelman said.

Windham says the district is feeling this shortage every day and have had to double up on bus routes and making staggering start and end times at each school to combat the problem. The district began looking for more drivers in the early summer and have increased the pay wage for bus drivers to entice people to want to drive a bus for their district. Windham says they wish everyone could go to the game.

“We wish, in an ideal world, that everyone could go all together over there to that football game Friday night, and it’s one of those things that adapting and overcoming, and we know that Nacogdoches parents are really good at rolling with it,” Windham said.

The district is allowing the band, drill and cheer teams all perform at Dragon Stadium at 7 p.m. Friday night to cheer on the football boys from Nacogdoches.