SPOKANE, Wash. – Spokane does not have enough school bus drivers and the problem is making some kids late for school. It is actually a statewide problem.
One parent found that out the hard way and took to Facebook to express her frustration. She posted a picture of her son's report card and it shows her son has been late to his first period 26 times so far this year. When she called the district, she said she was told his bus was late due to the driver shortage.
"There is a shortage, it's relatively nationwide and of course we feel it here painfully, because it's statewide as well. So, it's not only our state it's across the nation that we have a shortage of bus drivers," said District 101 Regional Transportation Coordinator for Educational Services Chris Jones.
Jones said he has seen a steady decline of bus drivers over the years for many reasons.
"School bus driving is a part time job, but requires that full time commitment both in your time and in your heart to do that because you're driving the kids," Jones said.
He said federal and state requirements to be a school bus driver are tougher than they used to be.
"The cargo is not cargo, they're kids, and so the requirements to become a school bus driver is a lot stricter these days," he said.
Jones explained it is now more difficult to get a commercial driver's license. Training for drivers is also more intense and all school bus drivers are required to pass a background check.
"Just like with our teachers, safety is paramount, so not just anyone can come in the door and be a school bus driver. But, we'd like them to try at least," Jones explained.
The Spokane Public School District's buses are operated by Durham School Services. When KREM 2 reached out to Durham about the shortage of drivers, they confirmed it was an issue and said it is making some students late for class in the morning.
Durham officials said they are currently reviewing all of their school bus routes and are working toward a solution.
Spokane Public Schools officials said they are aware of the issue and are having discussions with the bus company both locally and nationally.