SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – Facing a bus driver shortage, the Savannah-Chatham County Public School System (SCCPSS) says the district will be unable to provide transportation for some students and will implement a new parent registration requirement for others.
“We are at a critical stage at this point,” said Tammy Perkins, Lead Transportation Director of SCCPSS. “We’ve been monitoring our staffing numbers throughout the year, but as we got closer to the upcoming school year, we did realize that were at a point where some decisions had to be made,” said Tammy Perkins, Lead Transportation Director of SCCPSS.”
The shortage isn’t exclusive to SCCPSS or this position. Districts around the country are scrambling to fill driver vacancies as the nation grapples with hiring difficulties.
Transportation for the upcoming school year will not be available for Choice school students and alternative education students, SCCPSS announced Tuesday.
School officials say with the current number of drivers, the school system must prioritize ridership and consider reducing routes.
SCCPSS says 290 to 300 drivers are needed to transport the 25,000 students who utilize transportation in a traditional year.
The current number of drivers including their staffing reserve is 217.
“SCCPSS will work to offer an equitable solution for all students to the extent staffing levels will allow and will continually monitor route offerings based on driver availability to include reserve staffing levels,” the district stated.
The first priority includes students in the Individualized Education Program (IEP) or 504 plan that specifically stipulates a requirement for transportation, ESOL students and McKinney Vento (Homeless) students.
Other priorities will include neighborhood zoned elementary, middle, K-8 and high school students.
Parents with students who have been identified in a defined priority level for transportation will be required to register for services.
Registration will be provided through an online registration portal that will be issued by July 9. The district plans to provide families with more information regarding registration by that date.
“By July 9th those parents who are eligible in those priority levels will receive the registration. They will have a small window to notify us of their intentions and we will be able to continue planning from there,” explained Perkins.
SY 21-22 PRIORITY LEVELS ESTABLISHED FOR TRANSPORTATION SERVICES
*Students have been preliminarily identified to receive transportation. Registration Required.
- Priority 1: Identified students with IEP or 504 that requires Special Transportation Services, ESOL, and McKinney Vento (Homeless) students
- Priority 2: Zoned Elementary School & K-8 Students
- Priority 3: Zoned Middle School & High School Students
OTHER PRIORITY LEVELS: Transportation Service Not Currently Available
*SCCPSS is not able to provide transportation at this time.
- Priority 4: Choice Elementary School & K8 Students
- Priority 5: Choice Middle School & High School Students and Alternative Education Students
SCCPSS says transportation agreements will be made with charter schools depending on priority and staffing levels.
“We have done some analysis to determine our capacity levels both with our driver numbers as well as our fleet to be able to determine that we can transport priority levels one, two, and three,” said Perkins.
Officials say bus routes will be reviewed regularly as driver capacity levels increase or decrease. Routes will stay in place for the first semester of the school year and will be modified to account for any staff level changes at the start of the second semester in January 2022.
“That is our hope, that is our goal. We are looking to improve our staffing numbers and be ready for the following school year,” Perkins said.
Meanwhile, SCCPSS urges anyone interested in applying to become a school bus driver to visit savannahccs.tedk12.com.