Transportation Update

Reported by on 11/22/21

Indian Prairie transportation continues to experience a severe bus driver shortage. This same shortage is impacting districts throughout the country and unfortunately the situation is not improving. District 204 is currently short numerous drivers/route packages that do not have a permanent driver assigned which causes routes to be combined or covered by another driver. First Student is using all methods possible to cover routes that are left open including using on call drivers, borrowed drivers from other areas of Illinois, First Student management, mechanics and office staff from around our area. These substitute drivers have the required license and training to drive the buses and typically are veteran drivers who have years of experience. Any driver behind the wheel transporting our students possesses an Illinois School Bus Permit. Before the drivers are able to transport students, they receive specialized training in student behavior management, loading and unloading, security and emergency medical procedures. The school bus industry operates by a set of safety, security, health and driver qualification guidelines that meet, and in some cases exceed, federal and state laws, and ensure that school buses are the safest mode of transportation for our students.

To overcome any daily shortages, we have a plan to combine routes in the area as needed, run sweeper routes and double turn routes. Due to the timing of drivers call offs, this information is not always immediately available until early in the morning when our priority is focused on getting the routes covered and communicating with the drivers.

Unfortunately, our driver shortage situation is not anticipated to be improved before the end of this school year. The driver shortage situation is extremely fluid and there is no recruitment and retention strategy that will be not be pursued. We are looking at all options, having discussions with drivers and making adjustments to our current incentives to reduce turnover and increase retention.

We thank you for your continued support and patience while we work through the current driver shortage situation we are experiencing.

Leslie Mitchell
Gregory Middle School
Indian Prairie School District 204