The bus driver shortage that at times delayed students’ school arrival and complicated school athletic schedules last year is persisting into the 2022-23 school year.
To attract more drivers, state agencies including the Departments of Education, Motor Vehicles, and Transportation are working together with bus companies to publicize open positions.
Speaking at a news conference earlier today that launched Bus Driver Recruitment Week, Jon Hipsher, chief operating officer of M&J Bus Inc., said that every district and bus company in the state is looking for more drivers, and statewide there is a shortage of approximately 1,000 drivers.
Agency leaders said that under Governor Lamont’s leadership, the state has made positive strides in streamlining the process of becoming a bus driver. State agencies have worked together to substantially reduce the time required to turn around background checks and DMV applications.
“Our school bus drivers are a critical part of our educational ecosystem,” said State Education Commissioner Charlene Russell-Tucker. She added that the past several years have shown that students learn best in person with educators, school staff, and peers—and that bus drivers are essential in making sure students get to school safely every day.
The shortage of bus drivers is not the only staffing shortage affecting Connecticut schools. Districts have been facing shortages of teachers, paraprofessionals, substitutes, and other school staff.
CEA President Kate Dias has drawn attention to the need to actively look at how districts recruit, compensate, and support teachers and other staff members.
“We need to take a thoughtful and holistic look at what needs to change in our schools so that we can successfully recruit and retain highly qualified educators and support staff,” she said.