‘Severe’ shortage of school bus drivers affecting routes in central Okanagan – Kelowna News

Shortage of school bus drivers

The Central Okanagan School District is facing a “serious” shortage of school bus drivers.

School commissioners will tell the committee this week that 16 of the school district’s 70 regular drivers have retired or resigned from their positions since September 2021.

This has resulted in frequent route cancellations.

“In order for the department to have the least impact on student transportation, we have merged bus routes in three separate areas of the district to compensate for the loss of drivers we were unable to replace,” said Gail. SD23 transport manager Prokopchuk in a memo to the school board.

“Training and hiring of new drivers is ongoing and several different bus driver recruitment campaigns have resulted in new applications being submitted,” Prokopchuk continued, adding that it is expected that replacement drivers will be in place. place for next fall so that routes can return to normal.

This year, more than 4,549 students rode the bus on 70 routes. The district says it expects to receive 7,000 applications for the upcoming school year, although not all will be approved.

Priority goes to children who live more than three kilometers, four kilometers and 4.8 kilometers from their elementary, middle or high school, respectively. Courtesy riders – there were 743 last year – then complete the routes.

Prokopchuk said in his report that funding the school bus program was an “ongoing challenge.” Tuition fees collected since 2009-10 do not fully fund the program, which is subsidized by regular school district educational funding.

School districts are not required to provide transportation, but it is a service that SD23 has traditionally offered, the report notes.

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