(NewsSpace.com) – The pandemic had a significant impact on a lot of industries, a fallout that many are still dealing with years later. Schools suffered a hard hit, with many educators and other staff members looking for new jobs. That includes bus drivers, whom millions of parents count on to get their children to school safely. Tired of the shortfall, one school district has come up with an innovative way to solve the problem: pay the parents.
The School District of Philadelphia is struggling to hire and keep bus drivers to transport the nearly 200,000 children to its various institutions. The district regularly employs 200 drivers but has an astonishing 100 vacancies. So, instead of trying to fight a losing battle, officials have decided to offer the parents a monthly stipend to drive their kids instead. Those who relied on bus services in the morning and afternoon receive $300 per month, whereas those who only relied on one-way transportation receive $150.
According to the executive director of the National Association for Pupil Transportation, Molly McGee-Hewitt, part of the shortage is due to job hopping, a practice where people move from job to job quickly. She said, “[p]eople don’t seem to stay in positions as long as they used to.”
Philadelphia is hardly the only city to experience these shortfalls. Before the new year started, the Chicago Public Schools system was short more than 600 bus drivers. It raised its pay by $5 to $10 per hour and offered to cover training to entice more people to apply. Like Philadelphia, Chicago officials also offered some of its students’ families a monthly stipend of $500 to drive their children to ease the burden and ensure the kids got to school.
It’s not limited to big cities, either. HopSkipDrive co-founder Joanna McFarland spoke with USA Today and said it’s an issue “that almost every single school district is facing. It is affecting everything, everywhere.”
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