SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) – A school bus driver shortage in Sioux Falls is causing some students to arrive late to class. Many parents are frustrated as they worry about last-minute communication and tardies at school.
“It’s kind of anxiety-inducing, honestly, for our child anyways, to either be waiting out at the stop about a block away and wondering, ‘should I run home where the phone is and, like, make a phone call or would I miss it?” Athena Kellenberger, a Sioux Falls mom said.
Kellenberger and her husband go to work before the bus picks up their middle school-aged son in the morning. She says it’s stressful when the buses are late and wishes there was faster communication from the school district.
“It’s hard as a parent to understand why at, you know, why we’re finding things out late, you know, at 8:30 or 9 o’clock that, ‘oh, hey by the way your bus is going to be late,'” Kellenberger said. “Yeah, at that point, we know. It’s not here. You know, and how long has our child been standing out waiting for the bus? And now it’s getting cold.”
The Sioux Falls School District says they are working with School Bus Inc. on a communication plan.
“And that’s been probably the most difficult part because sometimes it may impact a specific route and we don’t know that until a half hour right before,” Jamie Nold, assistant superintendent with the Sioux Falls School District, said. “We’ll have to communicate that and definitely we need to before the routes going to be run.”
Another worry for Kellenberger is what her son is missing out on in class when the buses are late.
“School is doing the best that they can with the situation but there seems to be kind of this acceptance to, well, the kids will miss first period, but it’s okay, like they won’t be counted absent,” Kellenberger said. “Okay, I don’t care if he’s counted absent or not. He’s missing the information that he needs to get that, you know, many of the other students are getting.”
“We do have ways, methods, within the school day to be able to help and assist on that and, obviously, if anybody falls behind or feels that they’re child is falling behind, you know, talking to the school administration. They’ll help in that,” Nold said.
The school district runs about 80 routes each day, but School Bus Inc. currently only has staff for about 70.
The school district hopes to get more information out to parents next week on changes that might happen. They ask that families make sure the school has their correct phone numbers and emails on file.
If you are interested in becoming a school bus driver you can apply here.