BALDWIN COUNTY, Ala. (WKRG) – They cover 2200 square miles in Baldwin County, running over 400 routes a day making sure nearly 16,000 public schools students arrive to and from school safely and on time — but a staffing shortage is creating problems.
“Right now we’re having to run double runs. What that means is a driver runs their run and then they go back out and run another run that we can’t fill a slot. These kids are getting to school a little later which is hurting instructional time,” said Baldwin County Public Schools Transportation Coordinator Tony Pollard.
The need for bus drivers is county-wide, but Foley students are impacted most right now.
“We’re having to constantly communicate with parents saying this bus is going to be running late today, which puts them in an awkward position because they’re trying to get to work. They’re trying to arrange babysitters at that point,” said Pollard.
He says the number of bus drivers began dwindling down at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic and since then it’s been tough to bounce back. Pollard says the school system is facing problems daily as a result.
“With the pandemic and everybody feeling anxious a lot of people left and they just didn’t return. A lot of people aren’t returning back to work,” Pollard added.
Last month the Baldwin County Public School System hosted a career fair hoping to attract candidates for various jobs, but so far all of the voids haven’t been filled. Pollard says bus drivers will receive the training needed and these positions also receive full time health benefits. Regular drivers, substitute drivers and field trip drivers are desperately needed. Training is happening now at the state level which is why it’s important these positions are filled quickly.
“I know that at the end of December we’re going to have 5 openings in Bay Minette, we’re going to 4 openings in Foley that we cannot fill. It’s not like I can send someone from Spanish Fort to go drive a bus in Foley. That doesn’t make sense,” he continued.
To apply for a position with the Baldwin County Public School System click here.