Williamson County Clears Up Issues On Shortage of School Bus Drivers

Posted at 7:14 PM, Aug 25, 2015

 FRANKLIN, Tenn. – Williamson County School officials cleared up issues regarding a new pilot program implemented to alleviate the problems surrounding their shortage of school bus drivers.

The program kicked off two weeks ago, but parents have already been complaining that kids were left waiting too long, or got home too late.

Some Williamson County students have been getting to school half an hour earlier. It was part of the program intended to deal with the shortage of school bus drivers.

“Right now we have 16 routes that we have structured for first and second load,” said Assistant Superintendent Jason Golden.

That meant the same driver picked up and dropped off kids twice in the morning and the evening.

The early morning group got to go home first, while the second group waited for the bus to come back.

“We've made no curriculum changes at all. The bell to bell time is still the bell to bell time,” said Golden.

School officials said the pilot affects less than10 percent of their actual ridership, and while the majority of the routes are covered, they have to account for those drivers who might call in sick.

“If you have 5 percent out sick, if you have 240 drivers that's 12 drivers,” said Golden

The school needed to hire approximately 25 drivers in order to make sure this pilot program doesn't come back next year.

Yet school officials said hiring new bus drivers continued to be a challenge even with some of the additional incentives.

“We budget and pay our drivers an additional 88 hours annually for items such as training, bus cleaning, sweeping out the bus we do CPR training and some health training for our drivers,” said Golden.

School bus driving is a part time job with full-time benefits. The last time Williamson County Schools has enough bus drivers was five years ago when the economy wasn't doing so great.