BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — “You can see the impact when you don’t have them, it’s an important job,” Superintendent of Niagara Falls City School District, Mark Laurrie said.
A statewide school bus driver shortage is impacting students, parents and school districts weeks into the school year.
“It leads to safety concerns, it leads to difficulties,” Laurrie said.
Laurrie said they are short by twenty bus drivers, causing high school students to get home anywhere from forty minutes to an hour and a half later than usual.
“We had bus drivers sign up last week, and just because they sign up, we know they’re a month or two away from getting them on the road,” Laurrie said.
With school districts across the state struggling to get more bus drivers, Governor Kathy Hochul announced a multi-part plan on Sunday to help solve the issue.
“Hopefully it will help move thing forward to help break this log jam,” Laurrie said.
The state is launching outreach to more than half a million commercial driver’s license holders, the DMV is expediting the process for license completion and state agencies are launching recruitment efforts.
"Our schools and public health officials have moved mountains to ensure our children receive an in-person education this year, and we are leaving no stone unturned to make sure schools have adequate bus service to bring students to school and back," Governor Hochul said. "While the shortage of school bus drivers is not unique to New York State, I have directed state agencies to utilize creative approaches and use every tool at their disposal to help districts affected by the bus driver shortage, so we can bring in as many qualified bus drivers as possible as quickly as possible."
“We can’t forfeit the safety, the testing, the screening, but somethings gotta give,” Laurrie said. “It’s really a tsunami of conditions that need to be looked at in order to solve the problem."
Laurrie said this issue goes beyond students getting home late. He said some high school students have after school jobs, or they have to watch their younger siblings.
“It’s a real circular problem that needs to be taken care of to help the whole community,” Laurrie said.
To become a school bus driver, a special license is required. Visit this page for details about the CDL “S” endorsement for school bus drivers. Here is where you can find a copy of the manual for the written test. Once you're ready for the test, you can find and make an appointment at a nearby DMV.