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JCPS hopes hiring event will help address bus driver shortage

072122_JCPS Bus Driver Shortage_Lamecka Savage_by Breya Jones
Lamecka Savage has been a JCPS bus driver for 22 years. She said the shortage makes students have to wait longer for transportion and increases the possiblity for tardiness.

Jefferson County Public Schools is short on bus drivers ahead of the upcoming school year.

It was an issue for JCPS and districts across the state last year, too. That's why the district is preparing to host a hiring event aimed at expanding its pool of bus drivers.

“This is not something that is common or specific to JCPS. As you know, there is a labor shortage not just in transportation, but across the nation,” JCPS chief operations officer Chris Perkins said.

Last year, JCPS’ transportation department worked to mitigate the potential issues that the driver shortage could bring.

“They essentially rerouted everything that we do to consolidate routes in order to spread our drivers around the county to be able to cover the number of runs we have,” Perkins said. 

In Southern Indiana, the bus driver shortage caused some districts to cut routes sporadically, causing issues for students and their families.

Perkins said the district has no plans to cut routes this year, but that the efficiency of the bus service would be affected.

“One bus driver can’t hold or do more than one run and get there on time and get those kids to school in the time they need to be there,” said Lamecka Savage, who has been driving for JCPS for 22 years. 

Savage is also a parent and said the shortage is concerning.

“We need bus drivers because [a shortage] means your child is gonna be sitting waiting for that bus to get done with their run to pick up a whole nother run,” Savage said.

Perkins said there are about 100 people in the process of becoming a driver for the district, but that he would like to add even more. 

“I would love to bring in another 100 drivers,” Perkins said. “Increasing our numbers does nothing but increase our efficiency.” 

The district is hosting a hiring event July 21 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the C.B. Young Service Center on Crittenden Drive. 

He said it will be a “one-stop shop” for potential drivers.

“They’ll be able to complete paperwork, do background checks, we’ll be running shuttles to Concentra to provide drug testing and physicals, and we’ll be doing interviews here that day on the spot,” Perkins said.

Perkins said that getting more people started on the path to becoming JCPS drivers ahead of the school year will prevent the shortage from causing further issues.

Breya Jones is the Arts & Culture Reporter for LPM. Email Breya at bjones@lpm.org.