ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — Rockford Public Schools says a nationwide worker shortage has hampered their ability to support every bus route that K-12 students need when school starts on Thursday, September 2nd.
According to Michael Phillips, RPS 205’s Chief Operations Officer, bus routes will not be provided each day as the school moves to a rotating schedule. Slife said on two days each month, students will need to find alternative transportation to school.
“In short we don’t have enough bus drivers to cover the 160 routes that we have to start the school year,” he said.
The affected bus routes are available on the school district’s website.
Executive Director of Transportation Michael Slife said it is possible that students could have a driver in the morning but not after school.
“We hope that families work together with their school and community support systems to cover those days. Schools will provide extended drop-off and pick-up windows for families when regular busing won’t be provided,” Slife said in an announcement.
“This driver shortage will also affect our after-school activity buses and athletic buses. Some activity buses will not be available; those dates and routes are listed in the transportation calendar. For athletics, transportation will be provided after 4:30 p.m., when our regular school routes have ended for the day. High school coaches and athletic directors will work together to plan for alternative transportation when possible,” he continued.
“I know people are upset – I totally understand that and it’s not ideal – it’s not what we want to be doing – we’re in the game of taking kids to and from – not leaving somebody at home,” Phillips said.
RPS 205 is offering bus drivers starting pay at $15.30 an hour and full benefits, plus a $3,000 signing bonus. For an applicant who has bus driving experience and is already trained, that bonus is $4,000. New hires can also receive a $150 attendance bonus every pay period for a total of $3,300 a year. Interested parties can visit the following site to apply: rps205.com/careers/support
“To be clear, we don’t like this plan. At this time, we don’t have a better solution. We want to provide transportation to all students who need it – and we want more than anything to have a successful, strong start to the school year,” Slife said.