Editor’s Note: A previous version of this story incorrectly identified the Sycamore School District Superintendent as Chad Lewis. The story should have read, “Sycamore School District Superintendent Steve Wilder.” We apologize for the error.
SYCAMORE, Ill. (WTVO) — A shortage of school bus drivers in northern Illinois has pressed Sycamore School District Superintendent Steve Wilder into service.
Facebook user Anthony Cvek shared a photo of Wilder in the driver’s seat on the “What’s happening in Sycamore, IL” group, giving a thumbs up.
“The school bus driver shortage is so crazy in Northern Illinois right now that our Sycamore Superintendent of Schools stepped up to drive a bus for the Middle School Cross Country team today! High-five to him for being an ‘all hands on deck’ leader!” Cvek wrote.
Rockford Public Schools this week said the district did not have enough bus drivers to cover all the routes, all the time, and would be employing a rotating schedule. On two days per month, students would need to find alternative transportation to school, Michael Phillips, RPS 205’s Chief Operations Officer, said.
The driver shortfall isn’t new, but a labor shortage across many sectors and the pandemic’s lingering effects have made it worse, since about half the workforce was over 65 and more vulnerable to the virus, said Joanna McFarland, co-founder and CEO of school ride-service company HopSkipDrive, which tracks school bus issues.
Her company conducted a survey in March that found nearly 80% of districts nationwide that responded were having trouble finding enough bus drivers.
Districts have taken to offering thousands of dollars in hiring bonuses as incentives.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.