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Local school districts seeing shortage in bus drivers

Published: Aug. 18, 2021 at 11:13 PM CDT
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HASTINGS, Neb. (KSNB) - School districts across the country were experiencing a staffing shortage for bus drivers — including districts around Central Nebraska.

Becky Reier, transportation supervisor for Kearney Public Schools, said they were in need of substitute drivers to allow other drivers more of a break. Additionally, the district needed the extra drivers to be able to use their own buses to drive kids to and from extra-curricular activities. Reier said they had to use charter buses and their drivers from other companies in situations where they would need to take students to these activities.

“It would be better for us, it would be less expensive for us, to have people on staff to be able to run our own buses instead of having to charter out some of them. I know that it costs them a lot less to have us run,” Reier said.

She added, per day the bus drivers picked up and dropped off nearly 300 KPS students.

Holiday Express that provided school bus services for various districts in and outside of Grand Island was experiencing the same driver shortage.

Carole Urbom, director of growth and development for Holiday Express, said although their company had been fairly fortunate compared to other transportation companies, they were in need of substitute drivers, like KPS.

Urbom said they weren’t going to let the short-staff issues affect their service to the community.

“We make it work, we have office staff that hop in and substitute when needed and so, we’re a team,” Urbom said. “We’re a team that, whatever it takes to get those kids to and from school, we will do.”

She added that Holiday Express provided bus services to more than 1,500 Grand Island Public School students alone.

Urbom said offering their driver’s vacation time meant a lot to them.

“It’s very important, you know, school bus driving is more than driving a bus, it is being that bright spot in a child’s life everyday and so, our drivers do that,” she said.

Though Urbom and Reier said their companies may had been experiencing school bus driver shortages, they both noted it wouldn’t had affect the response times for picking up and dropping off students.

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