The challenges in the U.S. education system continue as some schools experience a bus driver shortage, prodding school officials to enlist parents to drive their kids for $700 or $4,000.
As children return to in-person classes, a school in Montana has invited eligible parents and adults to test drive their big yellow school bus and be paid to drive for $4,000 a month. A Delaware school district has offered parents $700 per child if they drive and pick up their kids from school using their own transportation.
Some schools are also offering hiring bonuses and an increase in hourly payments for people willing to work as bus drivers, while other schools said they would provide training for commercial licenses for interested job seekers.
A bus driver shortage is not an unusual problem in U.S. schools, but it's another pile to the challenges that learning institutions have to deal with as in-person classes resume during a Delta variant surge.
'Empowering Parents the Best Solution'
School officials of the EastSide Charter School in Delaware, with 500 students, said they believe the incentive will empower parents and bring the best solution to this common problem. In July, they launched a survey among parents who could sign up for the program. Those who agreed are expected to stick to the arrangements for the whole school year even if school buses become available for other kids who will still need transportation.
Philadelphia's school district has a similar solution, dubbed the Parent Flat Rate Program, that provides a $150 monthly payment per child for a maximum of $1,500.
In May, Montana joined other states in inviting parents and other adults to practice driving the school buses to be familiar with the barriers and then help out with the bus driver shortage. Despite the cash incentives, the number of participants wasn't many, but it has led to some applications.
On the other hand, officials of the Pittsburgh Public Schools' solution is to delay the school opening by two weeks due to the bus driver shortage. As the Pittsburgh school officials are still working out the solutions, some 70 parents and kids have protested in the streets. Superintendent Anthony Hamlet said during a virtual press conference that they are going through "some difficult decisions," but they are trying their best to ensure that the students will be able to come to school once classes start.
Cause of Bus Driver Shortage
According to Time Magazine, the country is experiencing a labor shortage across many sectors due to the pandemic. However, bus drivers are especially at risk because half of this workforce is the vulnerable over 65-year-old individuals.
Joanna McFarland, the founder of HopSkipDrive that tracks issues surrounding school buses, told the news outlet that 80 percent of school districts are having problems hiring bus drivers. She said that the current situation is at a breaking point, especially with COVID adding to the equation.
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