Bus Drivers Wanted: Our commitment to first-rate student transportation
We have a fleet of more than 600 buses in Nashville neighborhoods on any given day. But we need more drivers for those buses. LOTS of them, because currently we don't have enough. In fact, as of the time of this blog post, we have nearly 150 openings for bus drivers because of an unusual number of driver resignations this school year.
We weren't expecting to have this many driver vacancies at the beginning of school. So we want you, our MNPS families, to know that some of you may experience delays as your students are picked up and dropped off.
Metro Schools estimates this issue will affect about 25 percent of our bus routes. We are doing everything we can to reduce the potential number of late buses as much as possible — all hands are on deck. Routes have been consolidated to free up additional drivers, all available substitute drivers are being used and we're recruiting and training drivers to get them on a route as soon as possible.
In the meantime, we ask for your patience. If you have questions or concerns, call our Customer Service Center at 615-259-INFO (4636). If you or someone you know are interested in becoming a bus driver, please visit our website, mnps.org, to view qualifications and learn how to apply.
We know you have several questions about how the busing delays will affect your child's day at school.
How long will I be waiting if buses are late and what should I do?
We don’t expect the number of late buses to increase a great deal from what it has already been this year. Some students may wait a little longer at the bus stop while others may spend additional time on the bus getting to school.
Some kids may be on the bus a little longer than normal, but we expect most routes to be run within an hour and no routes to go longer than 90 minutes. Some buses will also start running two routes per school, which means they will drop off the first load of kids and then go back to pick up more. This will affect some bus stop times. Bus drivers have communicated directly with students and families about these changes. If you have additional questions, call 615-259-INFO (4636).
My child has an IEP. How will the bus delays affect his education?
We will continue to meet all standards for special education students, including meeting all transportation aspects of a student’s individualized education plan (IEP).
How will attendance be handled for late buses?
Schools will not penalize students for being late on a late bus.
Will breakfast still be available for students if the bus arrives to school late?
We have instructed school cafeterias to continue offering breakfast until all students have arrived.
What is the district's game plan on addressing this issue long-term?
We are laser-focused on continuing to recruit bus drivers and retain the bus drivers we have. That is complicated by the intense competition for drivers that has built up in and around Nashville, including from other school districts and private bus companies.
This week, the district is conducting bus driver focus groups and analyzing exit interview data from bus drivers who have left the district. This information will be used as the district evaluates compensation for bus drivers.
For the long-term, we are looking at the reasons drivers are giving for leaving and a multi-departmental group has come together to develop a long-term strategy to retain our drivers.
New drivers are aggressively being recruited and trained. The district has scheduled two bus driver job fairs this month on October 14 and October 29:
October 14, 2015 10am to 1:30pm Goodwill Berry Road Career Solutions Community Job Fair Coleman Park Community Center 384 Thompson Lane Nashville, TN 37204
October 29, 2015 10am to 2pm Urban League of Middle Tennessee 50 Vantage Way, Suite 201 Nashville, TN 37228
Bus drivers, students, parents and school personnel all share a responsibility to ensure that children get to and from school safely every day. Here are a 5 Tips for Bus Stop Safety that are good to follow anytime:
- Be prepared. Pack a light jacket for mornings when there will be cool, fall weather or an umbrella if the forecast calls for rain.
- Plan. Coordinate with a group of other parents and adults in your neighborhood who are available to have an adult present each morning and afternoon at the bus stop.
- Give reminders. Remind your students to be safe by not running between parked cars and buses. Students should wait until the bus has stopped and the driver opens to door before entering a bus.
- Be safe. While waiting, students should keep themselves and their belongings out of the road and away from traffic.
Be respectful. If your child's bus stop is on a corner of another person's property, remind children to be courteous and never leave litter behind.
Families can call 615-259-INFO (4636) for any transportation questions, Monday-Friday, 6:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.