SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) — The ongoing bus driver shortage is continuing to impact families in Chatham County and officials say they don’t anticipate it going away any time soon.
The Savannah-Chatham County Public School System (SCCPSS) will again be prioritizing ridership for students due to a critical bus driver staffing shortage, the district announced.
“We are not unique in Chatham County, school bus driver shortage is a issue nationwide,” said Tammy Perkins, SCCPSS Transportation Director. “It is a challenge that we have and it will be in the foreseeable future.”
Students prioritized for district-provided transportation include those who fall into one of the following categories:
- Priority 1: Identified students with Special Transportation Services specified within an IEP or 504 plan, ESOL, and McKinney-Vento students
- Priority 2: Zoned elementary school and K8 students
- Priority 3: Zoned middle and high school students
In order for a student to be considered for bus transportation, they must be registered, their student information must be verified and bus capacity must be available.
As of June 2022, SCCPSS reported it has 219 bus drivers but officials said that number needs to be around 300 to transport the roughly 25,000 students that need to be taken to and from school every day.
“For those priority levels that we are able to provide services for, our goal is to work on optimizing our routes for the upcoming year,” Perkins said.
In early July, SCCPSS emailed a registration link to all parents with students eligible for transportation. Parents are asked to complete the registration by Friday, July 15 at 11:59 p.m.
“That will help us provide efficient routes and have our team begin to determine who we can pull off buses to allow appropriate students,” Perkins said.
It’s information that Perkins says will help the district optimize the process.
“As we get the responses back from the survey that will help us fine-tune the stop start-start times, so it’s very important that parents update their information,” Perkins said.
Perkins says in the meantime the school is working hard to boost bus driver recruitment and training.
“We are continuing in our district with a robust recruitment plan, we have implemented supplements for drivers to come onto our program and into our department,” Perkins said.
The district said beginning July 11, questions or concerns regarding the shortage or bus services may be directed to the Transportation Department via email at email@example.com or by calling the Transportation Hotline at 912-395-6065.
SCCPSS faced bus driver shortages last year as well, and the district was unable to provide transportation for Choice school and alternative education students.
Those interested in SCCPSS career opportunities can visit this link.