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National School Bus Driver Shortage Leads Jackson School District To Change Hours

Jordan/Flickr, https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/
For Jackson, the bus driver shortage comes from a combination of the new testing requirements, previous drivers retiring, either local or district, or previous drivers passing away.

With classes beginning very soon, transportation concerns are driving new conversations. Like other schools in the country, the city of Jackson's School District is facing a shortage of eligible bus drivers. Due to this reality, one of their schools is adjusting its hours to accommodate.

As of now, the school district is down 16 positions from what they need. In an attempt to fill these positions, Jackson's schools are offering incentives to attract new drivers and retain their current drivers. However, with class starting on August 22nd, a new tier system was introduced and will take place the first day of school for one elementary school in the district.

For Orchard Elementary, their school day will start at 9:00 AM, and end at 4:10 PM. Orchard was chosen as it has the smallest demographic that will be impacted by this new system. For this, other secondary and elementary students will be picked up at normal times, and once bus drivers have finished their first route, they will begin picking up those who attend Orchard Elementary.

Though this new system is set to begin when classes start, it is able to be changed. District Superintendent, Scott Smith, says that depending on if they get enough new drivers, changes will be made based on their situation.

"So what we would be doing is continuing to evaluate the system we have in place, and if we can get enough drivers, we would be looking to make adjustments as we deem appropriate."

For parents whose children attend Orchard and are unable to stay with their kids until the bus arrives, Smith has said that childcare services will be offered. Students can be dropped off after 7:00 AM and will be offered activities, as well as served breakfast starting at 8:30 AM.

Josh Seabaugh has been at Southeast since 2018. While journalism was his second major, he's found his home is truly in this field. He is a part of 'Redhawk Rhythm', Southeast's a capella group. During his downtime, he watches shows or plays games with his girlfriend, who has been his biggest supporter.