SLO County school districts faced with bus driver shortages

September 8, 2022


A significant shortage of bus drivers is forcing school districts across San Luis Obispo County to offer limited bus routes to students. [Tribune]

The Paso Robles Joint Unified School District offers one bus that picks up students in San Miguel and drives them to Paso Robles High School. The bus is full, and there is a waiting list of students who could fill another bus. But, the district does not have a driver for those students.

While the driver shortage has worsened during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Templeton Unified School District has not had enough drivers for a full fleet of busses for more than a decade. The Templeton district transports a few students in a van from Vineyard Elementary School, its most rural campus, to Templeton Elementary School, where parents pick up their children.

The San Luis Coastal and Lucia Mar school districts both offer some bus routes for students. However, they are operating with few drivers and limited routes.

District transportation directors in the county say they offer competitive pay, and some can give drivers a sign-on bonus to help cover any licensing fees.

But, rigorous testing and school bus driver requirements may be too big of a hurdle for some to overcome, said Kelly Stainbrook, the transportation director for Paso Robles Joint Unified. Stainbrook said it is heartbreaking her district cannot serve its rural students and even inner-city students in general.

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The problem is not administrators, pay or cannabis. One of the biggest stumbling blocks to getting a commercial drivers license of any kind is the fact that to pass the driving test, applicants need to show up with a commercial vehicle of the type they are being licensed to drive, in order to take the test. The second problem is even if they have the bus to take the test in, getting the bus to the test site requires having an already- licensed commercial driver to drive the bus there. (someone with a commercial drivers license learners permit can drive a commercial vehicle, but they need to be accompanied by a fully licensed driver.) Getting all that worked out requires time and money. And because there’s already a shortage of commercial drivers, it’s hard to find a licensed driver to assist in getting the test done.

Pool the espense. Great idea. Do the same with administrators, their secretaries, their offices, custodians, subs, etc. We have seen the past few years students need great teachers and counselors available at all times, maybe a discipline dean and a safety team of 5-15 per campus. It seems to me that many commenters on this and other sites have plenty of time to work for our communities and show the system how to do it better. Apply today. Do it for the children!!!

I believe a county wide transit system would work best. Why have double or triple buss services and drivers that work in the morning then again in the afternoon. The schools could give passes to the students to be used on school days, but the general public could use the bus for a fee. One driver one bus one route and one shift. Of course, this will require government agencies to work together. As taxpayers we should demand this cooperation or replace the bureaucrats that can’t figure it out.

As a child growing up in a large city, in fifth grade I went to a “magnet” school several miles away. However, the school district did not provide transportation to it. If you wanted to go, you were on your own. My parents leased busses from a government-run bus system, drew up the routes to pick up the most kids, and charged a nominal amount to cover costs. It worked remarkably well for ten years. Perhaps this is something that could be considered here.

Another problem is nobody wants to work with undisciplined kids…and there is nothing you can do about it,

This is where a shared services, Transportation District, would be useful.

Pooling transportation resources amongst districts would alleviate a lot of this stress.

You add a bus driver and your neighboring district loses one, after you’ve paid to train them. There is too much competition between the districts for limited driver resources.

In addition; buses are hugely expensive and break down constantly. Most districts can’t afford a spare either.

Pool the expense. Pool the risk. Pool the labor. Then you might solve this problem.

Too many potheads out there nowadays…good luck getting a Federal DOT card

Under rated comment! Guaranteed that’s prevented many many hires!

Point of information: to get a California commercial drivers license, with a school bus endorsement, does not require being drug tested. Currently there is nothing in place that screens out “potheads“ from becoming school bus drivers. Myths about cannabis continue to be prevalent.

Pay. More. It’s that simple.

Simple, just reduce administration salaries and use that money to pay bus drivers more