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The Student News Site of Joplin High School



The Student News Site of Joplin High School

The Student News Site of Joplin High School




Bus Driver Shortage Impacts Joplin Public Schools, Nation


As you may have noticed, Joplin Schools and many other districts nationwide are struggling with a shortage of bus drivers. This issue affects all departments of the district, including administration, students, and their families. The problem continues to get better as the school year’s busyness dies down, however, many members of the district are still feeling the effects. Some effects of this dilemma include students and teachers having longer days, parents and families having to change plans, and administrators working around the clock to find a solution.

There are many reasons as to why there is such a scarcity of drivers. Travis Wait, Director of Transportation for the district, believes it has something to do with the inconvenient hours a bus driver endures. 

“It’s a job where there is a large gap of time between morning and afternoon routes. For a lot of bus drivers, they’ll wonder what to do in that large span of time,” Wait stated. 

Additionally, the appeal of the job varies from person to person. Wait pointed out, “Not everybody views driving a school bus the same. Some might have a positive memory from their past and some might have negative ones.”

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Joplin Schools is busy finding ways to ensure that drivers will stick around for longer. Our district’s Assistant Superintendent of Operations, Matt Harding shared his thoughts on this. 

“In the past few years, we’ve looked at others in the industry and sort of tried to match their pay rates. Furthermore, we’ve found incentives and opportunities for our drivers,” Harding explained. 

These efforts contribute to making steps toward settling the issue. Going forward, the district will continue to advertise for new drivers and interview available applicants. Wait and Harding ensure that despite the desperate need for hirees, Joplin Schools will maintain their high standards. 

“We run background checks and other precautions because we are dealing with the students and young people in our community,” Wait assured. 

According to Wait and Harding, Joplin Schools currently has 53 bus drivers on staff, with 12 in training (as of August 29, 2023). Wait mentioned that with this many employees, there’s always the possibility of at least one not showing up. Harding confirmed that with an already short staff, the absence of drivers makes the issue even more complicated. However, the issue is improving. 

Even though the district is working hard to find a solution, there are still a number of inconveniences that come with the shortage. To start, the issue has caused some students to miss parts of their morning classes, affecting students’ ability to learn. Joplin High School Principal, Dr. Randy Oliver mentioned his thoughts. 

“First, when it’s late in the morning, students cannot receive an education. Over fifty kids have missed a majority of their first class on some days due to this,” Oliver pointed out. 

Furthermore, with drivers having to run multiple routes, traffic setbacks have occurred. Students are having to endure longer school days and families are faced with changing schedules due to the shortage of drivers. Additionally, teachers and administrators have the duty of staying as late as 6 p.m. to ensure students make it on the bus. The dilemma is also difficult for dispatchers and radio operators who are forced to work upwards of 12 hours a day. There is no doubt that the community overall is facing the effects of this issue. 

Both Wait and Harding, on behalf of Joplin Schools, want to thank the members of the district for their patience and flexibility in the past few weeks. “We appreciate your patience as we diligently work to resolve this issue,” Wait said. They encourage anyone who is of legal age and is interested in being a bus driver to apply on the Joplin Schools website.

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