Lebanon R-3 struggles to fill bus driver and substitute teacher openings
CHRIS RODEN • EDITOR@LACLEDERECORD.COM
The Lebanon R-3 School District has struggled this year, like many districts, to attract bus drivers and substitute teachers.
Assistant Superintendent Brad Armstrong said getting bus drivers has been difficult for districts nationwide for a few years.
"The pandemic has affected employment in all areas. It's just amplified it for us with bus drivers," Armstrong said.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Armstrong said that for the first time in his tenure in the district that 100 percent of the bus driver positions were filled.
"It really makes a difference on how smooth things operate, how efficient and how much lower stress it is on the system when you have enough drivers to operate. And then the pandemic hit, and we went backwards to where we were and worse," Armstrong said.
He said currently the Lebanon R-3 District is 16 drivers short of having all the routes filled and from having enough substitute bus drivers for trips throughout the week.
Armstrong said the district is coping by having the drivers with short town routes begin those first. Then they return to the transfer location at Esther Elementary to drive one of six to eight buses that have been waiting for a driver.
The routes get ran, but the waiting time for students is onerous.
"When it's 90 degrees and 100 percent humidity and you got 40 or 50 kids who are tired and hot, and you have to remember they've already been on the bus for 40 minutes from getting on at their school, riding over to Esther to the transfer, sitting there and waiting for the transfer and now waiting another 10 minutes for the driver to get back, it's 45 minutes to an hour that they're on the bus before they even start heading home," Armstrong said.
The answer is, of course, attracting more bus drivers.
For more on this story see Saturday's LCR.