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Bus Driver Shortage Effects Aroostook County School Districts

Published: Sep. 21, 2021 at 3:30 PM EDT
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AROOSTOOK COUNTY, Maine (WAGM) -

Aroostook County, much like the rest of the nation is experiencing a shortage of school bus drivers. NewsSource8′s Brian Bouchard catches up with some superintendents around the county to see how their districts are handling it.

“I am short one driver in each district. In RSU 88 we’ve had an ad out in the local paper for well over a year”, says Elaine Boulier – Superintendent MSAD #42, RSU 88

Aroostook County School Districts, much like many employers, are feeling the strain of staffing shortages, particularly finding drivers for their school busses.

“We’re hiring, we have one full time position that’s open that’s a bus driver/custodian position and we could really use, probably another one” says Ben Greenlaw – Superintendent, MSAD #1

The superintendents spoke about a new law that went into effect last year at the beginning of the pandemic. The Entry Level Driver Training is a new law from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, it requires all school bus drivers to obtain a CDL license with a bus driver endorsement. On the CDL test, the potential bus drivers are asked questions about many vehicles requiring a CDL license, not just school busses, and many applicants have stated that they feel overwhelmed by the written exam.

“There is a shortage out there and by making it more difficult and more challenging to become a bus driver… People are seeing all the hoops they gotta jump through and saying “You know what maybe I’ll go try something else that maybe isn’t quite as difficult”” says Larry Wocester – Superintendent, MSAD #45

The superintendents say that while some districts down state hire contractors to drive their routes, they are glad that so far their districts have been able to keep the wheels spinning with district employees.

“We’ve got a teacher right now that we’re trying to get certified as a sub” says Wocester

“If for some reason we wouldn’t be able to find coverage then we’d probably have to go remote” says Boulier

“That is something that keeps me up at night, I think about, what would we do if we had a number of bus drivers test positive?” says Greenlaw

All of the superintendents’ state that if you are interested in becoming a school bus driver, their district would work with you to obtain the proper credentials if you do not currently have them.

Brian Bouchard, NewsSource8

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