Dear North Colonie Families:
There is an ongoing struggle nationally to adequately staff public school buses with trained commercially-licensed school bus drivers. Our transportation department was very proactive last school year, as well as during the summer to recruit drivers to cover our district’s 54 routes that transport 6,023 of our students each and every school day.
Our “Drive a Bus” campaigns have had some success, and we thank all of you who shared information about these events with family, friends, and neighbors. Despite these recruitment efforts and increased competitive pay, we still have a shortage of drivers. As you may be aware, just this morning Route 111, which normally brings students to SHS, SMS, and Loudonville was unable to make these runs due to a number of drivers out sick and a lack of substitutes available. Once other routes were completed, a driver then did a “sweeper” run to pick up students for all three of these schools.
Obviously, we have been taking every step possible to avoid this kind of disruption and the stress this causes our students and families. In addition to continuous recruitment efforts, our transportation office staff and bus mechanics have been filling in themselves, covering vacant runs. This is clearly not a sustainable situation.
In order for North Colonie CSD to staff all runs, we need nine additional drivers daily for both the a.m. and p.m. runs to operate; as well as a pool of at a minimum five additional substitute drivers available to cover incidences of illnesses, vacations, and other issues that arise on a regular basis in any place of employment.
We are pursuing a number of options at this time to meet these staffing numbers. Please know, even once a driver trainee is hired, the process to meet all training requirements and have the driver available to independently conduct a bus run can take ten weeks.
Given this, please know there may be further disruptions to morning and afternoon runs, as well as athletics and extracurricular runs. We do everything possible to minimize these happenings. Transportation staff comes in early every morning, reviews absences, and determines what rerouting may be needed. Every effort is made to cover all runs and avoid cancellations, because we recognize the burden this places on our families.
How will I be informed if there is a staffing situation for my student’s bus?
Getting this information to you as soon as possible is of the utmost importance. Whether it is regarding a morning run or afternoon dismissal we will send both a text and email via ParentSquare. Please refer to the Parent Portal to confirm your students bus route information.
Interested in more information on being a driver or know someone who is? Please call 518-785-9486.
I want to express my deepest appreciation to our Transportation Director Denise Towne and staff for the exhaustive efforts they have made this school year and last to avoid this unfortunate situation.