Driver shortages could result in no-bus zones around District 518 schools
Students living within a half-mile of District 518 schools would no longer be picked up by school buses, in order to alleviate the demands on a limited number of drivers.
WORTHINGTON — Due to a lack of drivers, District 518 may need to put a half-mile no-busing zone around all of its schools.
Superintendent John Landgaard warned the District 518 Board of Education's Operations Committee about the driver shortage during its meeting Tuesday morning.
"It's hard to find drivers," he said.
Bus drivers have been in short supply in southwest Minnesota and across the nation for quite some time, due to a number of different factors, including the pandemic, driver retirements, and increased requirements for those seeking a license that would allow them to drive a bus.
District 518 contracts with Bud's Bus Service for student transportation needs.
Currently, there are 23 morning bus routes and 24 in the evening, and though the number of buses hasn't changed, there are more children who need rides.
"The federal government has put a whole bunch more restrictions on drivers training. There's a cost, I believe it's $4,000, to get your CDL bus license," Landgaard said. "Instead of helping the situation, they hurt the situation."
School board member Steve Schnieder said that the school would be willing to eliminate no-bus zones if they can find the drivers.
The shortage has left District 518 needing to use charter buses, which has increased costs for the school.
In other news Tuesday, the committee:
- Learned that a van the school had ordered will not be arriving, as Ford has stopped making transit vans.
- Received an update on the school's efforts to establish job ratings for each position, including job descriptions and salary ranges, which will likely be up for approval by the board in August.
- Discussed a plan to build a pond on District 518 land, in conjunction with the Okabena-Ocheda Watershed District, and indicated the board would likely discuss the matter and potentially approve moving forward with the project during its next meeting at 5:15 p.m. Tuesday.
- Heard an update on the district's many ongoing projects. The Intermediate School still needs some sod and irrigation installed outdoors. The Community Education building is on schedule, and one side has been sheet-rocked. The storage shed has had some adjustments made on materials and its foundation, which will save the district about $100,000. The district office has been moved to West Elementary so that its building can be renovated.
- Received two bids for snow removal for district properties. The committee expressed interest in splitting snow removal between the two bidders, which would need to be approved by the full board.