The Student News Site of The Woodlands College Park High School

The Paladin

The Student News Site of The Woodlands College Park High School

The Paladin

The Student News Site of The Woodlands College Park High School

The Paladin

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CISD Bus Driver Crisis


School districts nationwide have been plagued by a bus driver shortage throughout all of 2023, but for CISD schools, this shortage has been especially impactful.

According to a CISD statement, “Currently, we have over 30 bus driver vacancies. Our Transportation Department office staff are working tirelessly to cover routes for which we do not have drivers.” Conroe ISD bus driver James McColane said. “I do three [routes] in the morning and four in the afternoon.”

Clinton Holden, CPHS Associate Principal for Administration explained the impact of such a shortage. 

“When there is a shortage of bus drivers, it puts a huge strain on the rest of the transportation department. Those supervisors are now having to make time in their day to drive routes as well as the mechanics who are supposed to be making sure the buses are running efficiently. When the mechanics are forced to drive bus routes during the day, they have less time to work on buses that need maintenance. Therefore, some buses that have had air conditioning for instance, are having to drive without it, until the mechanics have the time to repair it, etc. Then, in some cases, routes are combined, so where there should have been two buses running two separate routes, they combine all the students on to one bus. With so many mechanics and supervisors running routes, it can become more of a danger to students when a bus breaks down while running a route. There isn’t anyone to drive a working bus to the broken down bus to transport the students to their destination. As you can see, the driver shortage has a domino effect.”

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This shortage has already started concerning residents, with CISD parent Kaitlan Seiffert telling KPRC 2, “Yesterday when I called the transportation department, I was on hold for almost 30 minutes trying to find out what bus my kids were on. They told me, they were supposed to be on a specific bus, and they weren’t, so they were calling bus drivers to see if they were on the bus. It’s unacceptable. I should know where my kids are at all times,”

We acknowledge that challenges with some bus routes have added stress to morning and afternoon routines for some of our families, and we apologize for that,” said CISD.

But CISD’s response has not satisfied many, ““I’m feeling really frustrated. Every time we bring up concerns with the transportation department, they take your name and number. They say they will get to it, and they will never call you back,” Seiffert said. 

CISD will attempt to fill their bus driver vacancies at an upcoming transportation job fair. CISD Assistant Superintendent of Operations Chris McCord told the Paladin that the fair will take place on September 12th at The Oak Ridge Transportation Center located at 27110 Geffert Wright Road from 9:30 a.m. until noon. “Paid driver training is included to help prospective bus drivers achieve both their Commercial Learners Permit (CLP) and their Commercial Driver’s License (CDL). Additionally, the District is also hiring office staff, bus monitors, and mechanics,” McCord said. “All [possible] measures are being implemented by the Transportation Department to ensure routes are occurring as efficiently as possible.”

Texas Association of School Board Human Resource Director Amy Campbell told the Houston Chronicle, “They’re just doing their best to try to find people who are eligible to drive.” Adding on that, “They’re not even just trying to find already licensed people, they’re just trying to find people willing to drive for them and they’re willing to provide the training.” 

Significant contribution to this shortage is the increasingly competitive pay and benefits for drivers in the private sector. Most new drivers are starting their careers in the private sector and current school bus drivers are flocking towards it. Additionally, a large number of the transit workforce is reaching retirement age, leading to general shortage in transit workers. These factors are not only affecting the school transportation department but are having a deteriorating impact on all public transportation systems.

All of these factors are compounded in Conroe ISD seeing as it is additionally facing a significant financial struggle and the addition of over 40 new bus routes.

With this shortage, it’s important to remember that bus riders and their families aren’t the only ones affected, as CISD put it, “During this time, our amazing drivers and staff in the Transportation Department are also feeling pressure because of the vacancies,” going on to suggest that, “words of encouragement go a long way in boosting the morale of those who show up every day to cover routes for our over 40,000 bus riders.”

But words of encouragement aren’t enough to stay alive, McColane explained, “overall for bus drivers, there’s no medical insurance for the drivers, they can buy it, but then there’s no money left over, it’s difficult for a lot of people to make a living.” How can Conroe ISD expect to keep and attract drivers if they do not give them enough to even stay alive?

So, whenever you get on and off your bus, make sure to smile and thank your bus driver. They deserve gratitude. They deserve encouragement. They deserve appreciation.  After all, they are safely transporting students to and from home, and into the future.

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Nyx Garibi-Moreyra, Newswriter

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    ChasitySep 9, 2023 at 8:21 pm

    How about a living salary. They pay 29000. 26000 is at poverty level. It’s ridiculous the cost of medical insurance almost 300 bucks. They will never keep people. It’s designed for retired people to subliment income. Unfortunately Covid took alot of that age group. If you want to keep working age adults then pay them a livable wage. With Inflation taken in consideration. Problem solved. Big wig will go without Christmas bonuses a few years.