The bus driver shortage for Northern Lights Public school has gotten worse over the past couple of years.
In 2020 the school had more route cancellations from a lack of spare drivers, and the list of available drivers is getting even shorter.
Some contractors did not return this year with one ending their route in September. The schools have been forced to combine routes together in an attempt to get every kid to school. This has resulted with the school busses picking up more kids then before and stretching out ride lengths.
Even with all the recent adjustment, there is still one route that has been without a driver since early October. NLPS is currently training someone and purchasing a bus to fill the position. Even with this bus out on the streets, the school will not have any extra drivers to fill in for absences.
The Board has chosen to give all contractors a 3% increase this year, despite not receiving any additional funding. NLPS said in a release how challenging working with a fixed amount of funding can be when it comes to transportation.
“There are only two ways that we can increase what we spend on transportation: one is to charge fees (which we currently do for in-town busing where we are able to provide it), and the other is to transfer money from the instructional portion of our budget, which would impact our classrooms.”
NLPS is saying contractors are having a difficult time continuing to operate as insurance, fuel, and repairs prices have all increased significantly.
The Northern Lights Board has been trying to bring this issue up every time they meet with local MLA or government ministers with little success. A couple of solutions have been explored but none have resulted in a permanent fix for the increased cost for contractors.
NLPS are asking the public for help in finding drivers. Anyone interested can get in touch with the Director of Transportation by calling 780-826-6038.