CONWAY, Ark – Conway Public Schools is battling a shortage of bus drivers.
Jason Lawrence, the district’s director of support services, says they’re short about 12 bus drivers.
Lawrence says every year there is a need for drivers but this year, more seem to be pumping the breaks.
“It is a high-stress job,” said Lawrence. “Whether its pay or whether its covid, whatever it might be all those are factors.”
Bus driver shortages are being seen all over the country. Some districts are putting up hiring ads and others are increasing pay wages to get people in the door.
Over in Conway, they’re utilizing their own staff while the gaps are waiting to be filled.
“Everybody around here drives,” said Hillary Parks. “The shop drives, the office drives, we all drive.”
Parks works in the transportation department as a secretary and a bookkeeper. Wednesday afternoon though, she added ‘bus driver’ to her job title.
“I got a call at 2:30 pm and then I was on a bus at 3 o’clock,” said Parks.
Parks says she got her CDL license to help when needed, but this school year she’s driven every day.
Lawrence says the biggest problem is happening after school when students are bussed off to games and extra circular activities.
“It’s a day-to-day on just making sure we have people in the seats driving the bus,” said Lawrence.
Lawrence says the transportation department does its best to work with the staff it has. Some drivers are having to finish two routes just to pick up the slack but says the kids are the top priority.
“Whatever that takes we’ll do it,” said Lawrence.
He says he’s hoping he can get more drivers soon but is thankful for the help of his staff.