September 8, 2016

Bus driver shortage drives school changes

By Jerry W. Kram
Parshall School Superintendent Beth Schwarz is looking for a few good drivers.
Schwarz informed the Parshall School Board that the school district doesn’t have enough drivers to cover as many routes as in the past. Part of the problem is that bus drivers need a commercial drivers license (CDL). Drivers with a CDL can make far more money driving trucks in the oil patch than they can working for the school, so finding and keeping drivers is perennial problem.
Schwarz said one way to stretch the drivers they have now is to do fewer pickups in Parshall than are done now. One option would be to do away with door to door rides for students inside of town, and instead designate three pickup and dropoff spots in the areas farthest from the school.
“I don’t believe than any student should have to walk a mile to school,” Schwarz said. “If they are just a few blocks away, that is a different story. But I think the kids at the far end of town do need the bus, so we will have to figure some way to get them here.”
Schwarz said she didn’t want the board to make a decision right away. She wants board members to speak with parents in the community and figure out what the needs are and how best to meet those needs.
She did ask for one concrete step to help driver situations. She asked permission to trade in one of the district’s full sized buses for two 14-seat buses. The smaller buses can be driven by anyone with a regular drivers license. The board authorized Schwarz to investigate the transaction.

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