'Extreme' bus driver shortage may force JeffCo Public Schools to cancel more routes

JeffCo Public Schools buses
Posted at 5:08 PM, Sep 14, 2021

JEFFERSON COUNTY, Colo. — A group of JeffCo Public Schools students waited for a bus Tuesday morning that never arrived due to an alert from the district that didn't reach every parent.

A spokesperson with the district told Denver7 it had communicated via email, text and phone call Monday afternoon that several bus routes had been canceled and would not be operating Tuesday.

Some parents never received an alert. The district is investigating why.

"For [the bus] to not show up, she was very upset," said Katerina Sandoval, the mother of a 7th-grader at Mandalay Middle School.

She learned of the canceled route only after calling the school when her daughter's bus never arrived.

"The school said, 'Oh, yeah, that bus isn't running today.' Just totally, totally casual," Sandoval said.

The district has been canceling bus routes on a rotating schedule as a strategy to help manage its bus driver shortage.

"Some routes will have a bus driver that day and other routes will not. So, of course, this is very difficult on the parents," Sandoval said.

That means each time her daughter's bus route gets canceled, she has to find a way to take her to school and pick her up.

That's not an option for every parent.

"I was recently laid off, so I'm able to take her to and from school. But as soon as I start working again, there will not be anybody available to just take her in the event there is not a bus," Sandoval said.

The school district warned Tuesday afternoon there may be more canceled routes as a result of a driver shortage.

"We are indeed experiencing extreme shortages in many areas, including transportation, and are not seeing any improvement. We are currently working ... on addressing this issue, as well as communication to our community this week about the need to begin cancelling more routes, and possibly cutting routes all together. ... Also, we have communicated out multiple times to our entire community about our staffing shortages, steps we are taking to manage our routes and continue to provide service, and have gone to extreme lengths to improve our staffing situation, to no avail."

Sandoval hopes the district finds a solution soon.

"We really do love the JeffCo school district," she said. "I think this has got to be a major frustration for them as well."

Denver7 reached out to the district to learn more details about its driver shortage and how it determines which routes to cancel.