School district searches for bus drivers amid worker shortage
Amid a dire shortage of school bus drivers for the Wareham School District, Transportation Coordinator Marie Ferreira has taken matters into her own hands. She and her secretary have been driving routes to fill the gap.
According to Ferreira, the driver shortage began during the Covid-19 pandemic.
“We had a lot of older drivers who didn’t feel safe, a lot of them retired,” Ferreira said.
30 Wareham students are on a transportation waitlist, meaning that they cannot rely on the district to take them to and from school. Wareham is not the only district affected by the shortage. According to Ferreira, there is a shortage across the country.
“It’s difficult to obtain a commercial driver’s license,” she explained.
Between 32 hours of theory training, 28 hours behind the wheel and learning a 72-point checklist for identifying engine components, Ferreira said that the time consuming process to obtain a license also factors into the shortage.
Despite the extensive hiring process, Ferreira said that they have received “quite a few” applicants.
The Wareham School district is currently offering a $35,000 salary for those who are fully licensed and have all school bus endorsements. They have recently hired three full-time drivers and are searching for two more.
In addition to full-time drivers, the district is in need of substitute drivers, part-time drivers and bus monitors.
Ultimately, the district’s goal is to diminish the number of students on the waitlist.
“We want no child to be without transportation,” Ferreira said.