Champaign School District addresses bus driver shortage

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CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WCIA) — Class started for more students in central Illinois, but some parents said they are worried about their kids getting to school on time. The Champaign School District said they are experiencing a shortage of bus drivers and they are hoping more people apply.

School has started and students and staff said they are ready to get back to the classroom.

“From the moment we started, the buses start rolling, it has been a great day in Unit 4,” said Champaign Schools Superintendent Shelia Boozer.

Parents like Kate Walczak said she was also looking forward to seeing her 4th grade son off for his first day, but there has been some confusion and concern about getting him there on time.

“We got up to get him on the bus at 7:46 [a.m.] and we were 10 minutes early, as the District request you are and the bus came at 8:18 [a.m.],” said Walczak. “I just want to make sure that somebody is tracking where he is and that he is getting to where he needs to be safely and he’s having a good school experience.”

Boozer said part of the reason for the delay is they need more workers. They are down almost 30 bus drivers. They also need more bus aides. But that is not all.

“From my understanding–and being in education for 24 years–we always have late buses the first day of school, first week of school. New drivers, new routes, families not quite sure when to have their kids out there.”

Walczak said she understands there may be issues to work out but she wants more communication about what’s happening.

“We stayed remote all last year, so it’s his first day back in the classroom since March of 2020 and the idea of losing any more class time over what we did for third grade is a little infuriating,” she said.

The District is assuring parents their kids are in safe hands.

“We have very caring adults at every single school, so if something happens and students arrive to school late because of the buses, they will still get their breakfast. They will still get instruction. They will still walk into a welcoming environment. No one is going to be marked tardy. We want our kids at school. We want them safe,” Boozer said.

They are hoping people interested in working with Champaign Schools will apply.

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