FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Schools across the nation are facing a shortage of school bus drivers and districts in Northwest Arkansas are not immune.
Fayetteville and Springdale Transportation Directors both say the labor shortage is a serious problem within their districts.
Springdale has around 60 drivers, but they need at least 75 drivers to accommodate their 93 routes. The district says it has room for 15-30 new hires.
Multiple times this school year, the school has had to cancel morning bus routes last minute due to drivers calling-in because of COVID-19, or other pressing reasons, resulting in parents having to come up with a backup plan.
Kevin Conkin, the Springdale School District Transportation Director, says it has been extremely difficult navigating getting students to and from school with limited staffing.
"We never want to cancel a route. We are being very transparent here. Families have to adjust to bring their students to school, so to me this is a crisis," said Conkin.
Both Fayetteville and Springdale school districts offer training to earn a bus-driving license.
"We've seen up to 45 minutes in delays, which is unacceptable to me. I would love to see our grandmas and grandpas, aunts and uncles give interest, we're Springdale, we can overcome this," said Conkin.
Fortunately, the Fayetteville School District has not had to cancel any routes, with the school currently having 50 bus drivers and in need of 5 new hires.
"We did put a plan in place in case we need to double run some things that would cause students to get home later. We will want to make sure we can provide a ride to everyone who needs one, "said Mike McClure, Fayetteville School District Transportation Director.