The Williamson County School Board voted to purchase 25 new school busses for the 2022 school year. The board met Monday night, where they discussed the school’s need for the new vehicles.
During the meeting, it was said that due to the country’s supply chain shortages, the school board decided that it was best to order the buses now. Superintendent Jason Golden added that it was because of their current busses age and millage.
During the meeting, school board member Jay Galbreath made the comment that they were short on drivers. “We don’t have enough bus drivers to drive the buses that we do have, and now we’re trying to replace buses that go out of service,” he said. “Ordinarily, that’s not a big deal, but we also have a number of buses that are sitting there and not doing anything.” The school said they are low on drivers and need a total of 46 new employees.
Superintendent Golden did say that he believed “every day there is a late bus for some reason… It is a challenge, especially right now without substitute bus drivers.”
The board voted 11 yes, 1 no to approve the new buses, with the cost totaling $2,519,700 for 21 general education buses, 2 replacement, and 2 growth Special Education buses.
Williamson County School Board Communications Director Carol Birdsong said that for those who apply for the driver position, the school board will offer incentives in pay and benefits for new drivers and that they will offer paid training to get the commercial driver’s license.
“We are always looking for drivers and encourage anyone who might be interested to apply,” Birdsong said in an email with The Tennessee Star. “If we can’t fill the positions, then we will continue with the second load routes that we are currently running. The 21 buses are replacement buses for those that will be retired due to mileage or age in the 22-23 school year.”
The bus driver shortage isn’t just affecting Williamson County.
Fox 17 reported that Nashville Metro schools are 72 drivers short of being able to cover all of the school buses routes. Metro schools told Fox 17 that “they’re seeking to develop a support employee pay plan over the course of this fiscal year to ensure competitive salaries to hopefully retain and recruit more drivers for the district.”
Parents have been struggling with getting their children to school on time. Some parents said that their children are waiting for more than an hour at bus stops. One mother, April Armstrong, told Fox 17 that her 9-year-old daughter has been reported absent by the school since the bus was late. “You don’t know where your child is. You don’t get notified if the bus is going to be late.”
Armstrong added that her daughter was over an hour late four days in a row due to the late pickup times.
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