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Bus Driver Shortage Ends Years Early for LaRue County Schools

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Summer break will be getting off to an early start for students in LaRue County. 

The school district says it will end the year four days early due to a bus driver shortage.

An online statement by the district says LaRue County schools will use four days of built up instructional time to wrap up the school year on Friday.  Otherwise, the shortage of bus drivers would have forced the district to move to virtual learning for the remaining days.  

Elisa Hanley, Branch Manager of Pupil Transportation for the Kentucky Department of Education, says the shortage has been coming for a while and is being felt nationwide.  She adds districts across Kentucky have been stepping up in unusual ways to finish the school year.

“Office staff, maintenance personnel, bus technicians, directors, and even superintendents are driving right now," Hanley told WKU Public Radio. "Teachers and other staff are driving.”

Districts have also combined routes and adjusted school start and end times to cope with the shortage. 

School systems have increased their pay for drivers, some to as much as $20 an hour. However, Hanley says it’s still hard to compete with companies like UPS that offer better pay and full-time hours.

Many drivers are retirees who opted not to get behind the wheel this year due to COVID-19.

Lisa is a Scottsville native and WKU alum. She has worked in radio as a news reporter and anchor for 18 years. Prior to joining WKU Public Radio, she most recently worked at WHAS in Louisville and WLAC in Nashville. She has received numerous awards from the Associated Press, including Best Reporter in Kentucky. Many of her stories have been heard on NPR.
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