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School bus driver shortage looming large; local district offers increased pay

FALCON, Colo. (KRDO)-- It's no secret there's a labor shortage in the country. Now though, it could be spilling into your child's transportation.

Southern Colorado area school districts say they are desperately looking for bus drivers, and say with the way things stand right now, real impacts are looming.

Falcon School District 49 is the fastest-growing school district in the state. But as student numbers rise, there just aren't enough bus drivers.

District 49 Transportation Manager Jack Pietraallo is so low on bus drivers for the upcoming school year, he's raising wages by $2 per hour.

"We've had a shortage for a few years now," Pietraallo says. "But the pandemic exasperated that and made it a lot worse. We're currently 28 bus drivers short for our reduced number of routes."

Off of Widefield Road, a billboard for Widefield School District 3 reads, "WSD3 is looking for bus drivers, Call Susan and take a tour of our facility and meet our staff."

Colorado Springs School District 11 says they're desperately looking for drivers too, as is Academy School District 20.

District 49 says it is struggling to find drivers for already reduced routes. In addition to daily commutes, Pietraallo says it's impacting kids in other ways.

"Most of our field trips are pretty much nonexistent and it's just because we don't have anybody that can drive them," Pietraallo says.

District 49 is offering a $1,000 signing bonus, training to get your commercial driver's license and a salary of $16.29 per hour.

"We're serving less kids," Pietraallo says. "It's the parents that are having to feel the pain and get their kids to school because we just don't have the assets to do it."

District 49 is now hoping that this newest package of incentives will encourage people to apply - because if it doesn't, they're not sure what will happen next.

"This affects your kids and your community directly. It's important for our kids to get the education that they need."

If you're interested in the job - you can find more information here.

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Spencer Soicher

Spencer is the weekend evening anchor, and a reporter for KRDO. Learn more about him here.

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