Follow Up


Douglas County School District parents frustrated with constant bus cancelations

District officials blame bus driver shortage, saying only 60% of positions are filled
Posted at 7:01 PM, Feb 15, 2023
and last updated 2023-02-15 21:01:43-05

DENVER — Denver7 viewer Shayna emailed into the newsroom Tuesday, questioning how the Douglas County School District plans on providing transportation to new schools it's interested in constructing when the district is confronted with a massive bus driver shortage that has resulted in constant cancellations this year.

"My daughter's bus has been canceled for the rest of this week due to 'driver shortage,'" Shyna's email read. "Her bus route has been canceled more time so far this semester than she's actually ridden the bus."

Denver7 took Shayna's concern to the school district and we learned that they are currently short 88 bus drivers of the 225 positions they need to be fully staffed.

That means the district only has 60 percent of the needed positions filled at the moment.

Chris Riley, a parent of two students at DCSD, hopes the district can fill those spots as soon as possible amid the route cancellation alerts he constantly gets.

"I can't keep count of it," Riley said. "It's been going on the majority of the school year. It's been very last minute. I mean, almost down to where we've been sitting at that actual bus stop, to where the bus just doesn't even show up. Then we'll get a text message while we're sitting there."

Those messages look like this:

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cancellation text

The bus driver shortage is not unique to DCSD. It's a nationwide problem and has impacted most major school districts in Colorado as well.

DCSD says three of their bus routes had to be permanently canceled this year, while others have been consolidated.

"Unfortunately that results in longer routes with fewer bus stops," DCSD spokeswoman Puala Hans said in a statement.

Douglas County Schools forced to cancel some routes

Trevor Byrne, president of JeffCo Transportation Association, says the shortage is complicated but can be attributed to one major factor.

"Wages and our benefits packages are terrible right now," Byrne said, who also works as a bus driver within the Jeffco Public Schools District.

Prospective drivers are choosing different careers because of that.

"They can go to other driving jobs that pay almost twice as much as we do," Byrne said. "They can go to drive trash trucks. They can go to drive over the road. They can drive charter buses, and literally make twice as much as what bus drivers do."

Hans says the district's bus driver hiring incentives are aimed to attract more of those drivers.

"We are currently offering a hiring incentive of $2,000 for bus drivers. Job opportunities with DCSD Transportation offer flexible hours, on-the-job training, and a way to give back to students in our community," Hans said.

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