Stock photo

Stock photo

Bus driver shortage to impact Kent School District students

Buses, times could change and some may not get transportation

Students in the Kent School District who ride a bus could see their routes affected due to a severe bus driver shortage.

The district announced Friday, Nov. 5 the driver shortage and potential impact to routes. The district transports about 10,000 students each day.

“On any given day, any given bus route, students could experience a different bus number, earlier or later pick-up or drop-off times, and unfortunately, the potential of no bus transportation at all,” according to the district.

The potential impacts:

Different buses: Your child may ride one bus in the morning to school and a different one in the afternoon on the way home. This means a different bus number and a different bus driver.

Bus times: Pick-up and drop-off times could vary and may not align precisely with school start and dismissal times. Because of the driver shortage, the district may need to double-up on bus runs, when this happens your child could be picked up earlier or later than when school begins. Alternatively, your student may need to wait at school for a bus to pick them up, when this happens students will be supervised while they wait. As soon as the district knows if your child’s route is affected, it will send a School Messenger SMS text and email to families with as much advance notice as possible.

No transportation: As a last resort, when no bus drivers are available, it’s possible the district may not be able to provide bus transportation for some routes on any given day. The district encourages families to have a backup plan with an alternative way to get their child to school. If your child is unable to get to school due to lack of transportation, it will be an excused absence. The district will notify affected families as soon as it possibly can. The district will continue to provide transportation for special education students who have special transportation in their Individualized Educational Plan (IEP).

“Unfortunately, KSD is not the only district or organization experiencing a driver shortage,” according to the district. “We have been diligently recruiting, hiring, and training a sufficient team of bus drivers as quickly as possible. Still, the COVID-19 pandemic has gravely impacted transportation nationwide and is now affecting our transportation team.”

For more information or transportation-related questions, visit the Kent School District website or call the Transportation office at 253-373-7442.

Driver numbers

Pre-pandemic the district needed 128 drivers available per day to cover all of the routes and had 145 drivers, according to a Nov. 5 email from district spokesperson Melissa Laramie.

This year the district consolidated bus routes to the point where it needs 117 drivers available per day.

“Currently we have 128 drivers on the roster but 11 drivers are on long-term medical/personal leave,” Laramie said. “That leaves us with 117 drivers. Then we average about 5 to 10 daily driver absences. The ‘bench’ to fill-in is depleted. There are dispatchers, routers, trainers and supervisors driving routes daily to help cover the routes.”

Laramie said the district would like to have 15 more drivers immediately, but that the target is constantly moving.

The district lost three drivers who specifically stated the vaccine mandate was the reason for their resignation, Laramie said.

“There has not been a surge of resignations but a slow build up of resignations paired with a low replacement rate,” Laramie said.

Bus drivers wanted

The Kent School District is offering a $1,000 incentive in an effort to hire more drivers.

Candidates who complete training and begin driving for the district will receive a $1,000 completion incentive. The pay for the part-time job is between $25.41 and $30.o3 per hour, according to the district website. Hours are generally 5:45 to 9:30 a.m. and 1:30 to 5 p.m weekdays.

Drivers must be fully vaccinated or provide a medical or religious exemption.

The district provides training to qualified applicants. The driver training program takes approximately four weeks and combines classroom learning with behind-the-wheel bus driving experience.

Apply online at the district website or call 253-373-7442.


Talk to us

Please share your story tips by emailing editor@kentreporter.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.kentreporter.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) Please keep letters to 300 words or less.

More in News

t
Kent Police arrest man, 18, in fatal shooting of 13-year-old boy

Judge finds probable cause to hold the Kent man for murder, attempted murder and robbery

The Judge Patricia H. Clark Children and Family Justice Center in Seattle that handles juvenile detention. COURTESY PHOTO, King County
High-profile juvenile crimes continue to rock Kent this summer

Six incidents in five weeks include fatal shooting, vehicular homicide, vehicular assault

King County Correctional Facility in Seattle. COURTESY PHOTO, King County
Kent man charged with attempted kidnapping of 6-year-old girl

40-year-old man allegedly try to take girl from apartment complex parking lot

Maleng Regional Justice Center in Kent. FILE PHOTO
Kent man receives 8-year sentence in 2021 fatal shooting

Pleaded guilty to lesser charge of manslaughter in shooting at apartment complex over parking dispute

Courtesy Photo, King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office
Judge finds probable cause to hold Kent man for kidnapping girl

Man, 40, reportedly grabbed 6-year-old girl in East Hill apartment complex parking lot

t
King County residential property values rise 12.4% in SE Kent

King County Assessor John Wilson begins to release 2024 numbers

t
Three 11-year-old girls in Kent help stop kidnapping of 6-year-old girl

40-year-old man reportedly grabbed girl in apartment complex parking lot on East Hill

t
Kent Police seek male teen driver in fatal hit-and-run on East Hill | Update

Teen reportedly driving stolen vehicle and fleeing police during Saturday, July 13 incident; victim identified

t
13-year-old boy fatally shot in Kent on East Hill near Turnkey Park | Update

Boy found shot near apartment complex Tuesday night, July 16 identified by medical examiner

t
Kent School Board votes 3-1 to send levy to voters in November

Capital projects and technology levy reduced from $192 million to $97 million after previous failures

t
Kiwanis clubs to place painted rocks at downtown Kent parks

Purpose is to ‘spread joy and positivity’