School bus driver shortage causes districts to pay parents to drive their own children

School bus driver shortages are causing schools to take extreme measures, including paying parents stipends to drive their kids to campus for the year.

EastSide Charter School in Wilmington, Del., has resorted to offering parents $700 to not use the school bus system to get their kids to and from school, The Washington Post reports.

Pittsburgh Public Schools are experiencing a similar shortage of sufficient drivers, causing them to push back classes for two weeks. The Board of Education voted for the delay, hoping it would give time to fill the gap of the 426 needed drivers.

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Labor shortages in various sectors have become commonplace since the pandemic, and have been blamed on various factors including enhanced unemployment benefits, worker worries about their health safety, and the difficulty in getting child care.

The Post reported that the school bus driver shortage is a part of this wider trend.

“We’ve been looking like crazy for everybody you can think of: janitors, cafeteria workers, psychologists, counselors, bus drivers," Aaron Bass, chief executive of EastSide, told the Post.

He added, "I wish I could use that money for buses, but I can’t because we don’t have drivers. It’s one more economic ripple from the pandemic."

The driver shortage is leaving schools with no wiggle room.

"I’m seeing things I’ve never seen before," Superintendent Franco Gallo of the Educational Service Center of Lorain County, Ohio, told the Post. "Sometimes, if they’re really short-staffed — like if a bus driver calls out in the morning — schools are sending messages like, 'Sorry, we’re not going to be able to pick up kids today.' "