Wilson County Schools officials warned parents to expect and plan for day-to-day cancellations of school bus routes as the district continues to experience a shortage of school bus drivers.
On Tuesday, Wilson County Schools Public Information Officer Jennifer Johnson said each of five schools had one of their bus routes cancelled because of a driver shortage stemming from vacancies and illness.
"A lot of people assume transportation is mandatory - it's really not. It's a privilege in Tennessee and unfortunately we're just not able to meet the demand," said Johnson.
Those schools were: Southside Elementary, Lebanon High, Carroll-Oakland, West Elementary, West Wilson Middle.
Johnson said the school system has experienced a driver shortage since last year, but Tuesday’s shortage was the biggest of the school year so far.
"We've gotten drivers in, make no mistake, but those drivers either quit, failed a drug test or didn't meet the background check, there are a lot of hoops those drivers have had to jump through," said Johnson.
Some parents, like Josh Kendall, who has two children in Wilson County Schools, wishes the administration would give parents more advance notice before announcing bus route cancellations. He says he received a robocall from the school system just after 10 a.m. Tuesday, saying his son’s bus would not be available to take him home from school at 2 p.m.
"For you to insinuate that all parents have flexible schedules or can arrange other transportation is ignorant for lack of a better word," said Kendall.
Wilson County Schools said they “don’t want to give parents false hope” that the bus driver shortage would be resolved soon, even though they said they’re doing “the best we can,” to hire new drivers.
Johnson said the school system has even been reaching out to retirees, but they haven’t been able to hire enough drivers as others leave the school system each month.
Wilson County School officials said they understand why parents would be upset about the last-minute bus cancellation notices, but they said it’s important for parents to have alternate plans for their children to get to and from school in case their route is cancelled on any given day.