Bus driver shortage sending kids home early at South Jersey high school

The district is understaffed by eight school bus drivers.

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Tuesday, September 14, 2021
NJ school district dismissing early due to bus driver shortage
The superintendent says the dismissal times had to be adjusted because of a bus driver shortage.

GLASSBORO, New Jersey (WPVI) -- The bus driver shortage is resulting in students from a school district in South Jersey heading home a little early starting Monday.

The Glassboro School District sent a letter home to parents on Friday saying the high school and intermediate school will begin dismissing 45 minutes earlier than usual.

The superintendent said the dismissal times had to be adjusted because of a bus driver shortage.

"Beginning Monday, we are altering the regular dismissal times for GIS and GHS to tackle transportation delays and ensure that the older students are released prior to their younger siblings. GIS will now dismiss at 1:27 p.m. each day, and GHS will dismiss at 1:40 p.m. Rodgers, Bullock, and Bowe will dismiss at their regular times," Superintendent Dr. Mark Silverstein said.

Silverstein said the district is understaffed by eight drivers, with some resignations taking place right before the start of the school year.

The shortage was causing some students to arrive home much later than usual.

"The first week of school we had students getting home two and a half hours late, which we just can't have," said Silverstein.

The district is encouraging anyone who is interested to apply for an open position after obtaining the proper credentials.

On Monday, Action News spoke with some seniors directly impacted by the early dismissals.

Senior Joanna Crispin said the girl's soccer recently missed a match.

"We were supposed to leave for a game, but the bus didn't show up. Then we were told it was coming and on the way, but then it never was able to come and we weren't able to play," said Crispin.

Senior Tamara Cooper said they had a hard time getting to the football game last week to cheer.

"A bus from Clayton, which is the next town over, actually had to take us to the game because there wasn't any more buses from our school," recalled Cooper.

Other seniors are eager for a return to normalcy.

"Classes are a little more harder because we have less free time. We want to get all that learning done," said Peter Dempster.

"I feel like it's taken time out of our senior year since we're getting out early," said Dallas Hohney.

Last week, Action News reported on the bus driver shortage affecting the Delaware Valley.

BUS DRIVER SHORTAGE: School districts across the Philadelphia region are dealing with a bus driver shortage. Some employers are offering sign-on bonuses and other benefits to find help.

The shortage predates the COVID-19 pandemic, but school closures and layoffs didn't help in 2020.

The New Jersey School Bus Contractors Association has seen a steep drop off, estimating 20% of drivers have not returned after layoffs because of COVID closures.

Some school districts are offering parents money to forget the bus and take their children to school themselves.

BUS DRIVER SHORTAGE: One school in Delaware is paying parents to drive their children to class - $700 per child.