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Should BPS pay families to drive their kids to school amid bus driver shortage?

School Bus Driver Shortage
Posted at 6:07 PM, Sep 22, 2021

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — Parents, community leaders and elected officials are calling on Buffalo Public Schools to pay parents to drive their kids to school until they can hire more drivers.

Latrice Martin is one of the many BPS parents frustrated with school buses arriving late or not at all to pick up their children.

“I’ve been taking my children to and from school on a daily basis. At least I know they’re there,” Martin said. “Thank God I have the flexibility to take my kids to school during my job.”

Instead of waiting for the buses, parents are driving their kids to schools.

“Compensate me for taking my child to school. I have no problems doing it,” Martin said.

It’s part of my job to meet their needs, and this is their need.”

According to our sister station WMAR in Baltimore, Baltimore City Schools are using this model and are paying families $250 to transport their kids to schools this month.

School Board Member-at-Large, Terrance Heard, said this is “a great alternative, and something that should be examined here in Buffalo.”

“We have money from the American Rescue Act,” Heard said. “We have a million dollars right now to address these issues. These specific issues are what the money is geared for.”

At last week's Board of Education meeting, Superintendent Dr. Kriner Cash spoke about paying parents to drive their kids to school.

"I'm not fully in favor of that because he who has a car will get paid, and he who does not have a car would not,” Cash said. “I'm not sure we want to become an Uber."

In a statement, the district said they are not considering paying parents to transport their own children or carpool to school, and they are focused on initiatives to recruit drivers.

To help fix the bus driver shortage, the Erie County Clerks said the County Auto Bureau is extending its hours to ensure qualified people can take the school bus driver permit test as soon as possible.