OKC Metro School Districts See Bus Driver Shortage

Friday, August 20th 2021, 4:59 pm
By: Brittany Toolis

For the last decade, bus drivers have been in short supply for schools across the state. Oklahoma City metro area school districts said the pandemic has only added to the shortage.

Those shortages have districts lead to late pickup and drop offs, completely different buses or drivers, and each time a driver calls off districts scramble to find someone to take their place.

"You know, it's like a puzzle we have to put together," said Moore Public School's Director of Transportation Scott Bryant.

In some districts like Moore, bus drivers drive multiple routes to fill the gaps.

"I have more routes to run than I have drivers to run them, so I have a driver run their route and then they have to go pick up another route," Bryant said.

Other districts have enough drivers to cover usual routes, but when one person calls in sick, it can throw a wrench in the entire day.

"Driver 'A' can go get half of this and driver 'B' can get the other half. That's my dispatch team," said Oklahoma City Public Schools' Director of Transportation Cody Stull.  

Just this week, Stillwater had to temporarily cancel its afternoon routes due to lack of coverage, and Western Heights Public Schools has had staff, including its interim superintendent, get behind the wheel. 

The pandemic has played a big role in the shortage, as many drivers are retired and some are with preexisting conditions that make them vulnerable. 

Many districts, including OKCPS and Moore kept bus drivers on the payroll throughout the pandemic, even when most students were at home. State backlogs are also added to the shortage.

"Appointments at DPS are incredibly difficult to come by. I had people who were setting appointments a month out, two months out," said Bryant.

Drivers need a commercial driver's license, but being a bus driver takes more than just hitting the gas.

"Just like being a teacher in a classroom, it's a hard job," said Stull. "You definitely got to love kids to do this. You got to love kids to be a part of these kinds of programs."

School districts with open bus driver positions are:

Click here for Deer Creek.

Click here for Stillwater.

Click here for Mustang.

Click here for Moore.

Click here for OKCPS.

Click here for Western Heights.