The Mission School District is “critically short” on bus drivers, and in danger of having to occasionally shut down routes unless they get more.
Superintendent Angus Wilson sent out a letter to parents on Nov. 5 stating that several drivers have retired in recent weeks and they may have to occasionally cancel certain routes if someone gets sick.
“Many sectors of the economy are struggling to keep employees presently; the education sector is no different,” Wilson said in the letter.
“We understand that this is a potentially upsetting event, creating uncertainty.”
The school district – along with many others in B.C. – have been seeing a shortage of incoming drivers to fill the position of outgoing retirees, Wilson said.
The district knew the drivers were retiring, but getting the new recruits has been a challenge.
He said that Jodi Marshall, the school district’s manager of transportation, is driving a bus daily to keep all the routes operating.
Drivers are so short that a morning route will be automatically cancelled if someone can’t make it to work and parents will get an early morning email, Wilson said.
“We just can’t change the system that quickly,” he said, adding if a driver gives notice they will be away, the longer routes will be prioritized.
Wilson said that drivers are currently in training, but it’s a weeks-long process before they can get behind the wheel. He said the predicament will continue for some time.
A labour shortage is affecting many sectors, but school districts are feeling particularly squeezed because of the number of qualifications they require, according to Wilson.
Similarly, school principals and administrators have been filling teaching positions this year due to teacher self isolations and a lack of teachers-on-call.
If anyone is interested in a casual bus-driving position, they can visit makeafuture.ca, and submit a resume outlining qualifications and experience to HRsupportstaff@mpsd.ca.
A Class 2 drivers licence is required, as well as air brake endorsements from ICBC.