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The Student News Site of St. Charles North High School


The Student News Site of St. Charles North High School


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District 303 Hires Bus Drivers Amid Nationwide Shortage

Holly Nguyen-Barba
Across the country, schools have been struggling for enough bus drivers to support the student body.

District 303 has increased hiring of new bus drivers to combat the national bus driver shortage. Over the summer, the district agreed to new contracts with the St. Charles Transportation and Maintenance Association, giving more benefits to bus drivers.

The bus driver shortage has interfered with school transportation since 2021, and shortages have continued to worsen on a national level. This year, USA Today found “at least one instance of a major bus driver shortage” in each of the 50 states.

D303 has not escaped the bus driver shortage, with routes and field trips being restricted by a lack of bus drivers. However, a wave of new hires has decreased the effect that the shortage has on D303.

“Right now, we only have one open route and the rest are covered,” said James Reeves, transportation director. “We hired, since the summer, 17 drivers, which is twice as many as we would [normally] hire in a year.”

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During the summer of 2023, the district renegotiated contracts with the SCT&M, D303’s bus drivers’ union. These negotiations gave D303 bus drivers more hours, pay and access to benefits. 

“The first thing we did is we went to the negotiating table with the union bus drivers,” said Reeves. “We met with the school board and got permission from them to offer a minimum of six hours a day.”

Bus drivers become eligible for benefits from the district including medical, life, dental and vision insurance when they work 30 hours or more a week. The new contract guarantees D303 bus drivers are able to work those 30 hours.

“Once we got the guarantee of six hours into the contract, that made the job a lot more appealing,” said Reeves.

The district is also using outside contractors to provide drivers for some of their routes. According to Reeves, 20 routes are covered by outside drivers.

Despite an influx in new hires and access to contractors, the district still struggles when not every bus driver is able to work on a given day. When not enough substitute drivers are available to fill the routes of drivers on sick leave or otherwise unable to work, D303 transportation workers will often drive buses themselves.

“So the choices are I can have somebody from my staff drive, or I can send a bus back about an hour after the bell rings to pick them up,” said Reeves. “For me, I want you guys to get home, so I am sending my staff out to drive.”

Even then, routes sometimes have to be delayed. According to Reeves, this is most common for elementary school students being picked up after school ten minutes later than usual. However, longer delays, sometimes an hour or more, have occurred during the morning this school year. Reeves hopes that hiring more substitute bus drivers will help alleviate delays.

New hires often require weeks of training before they can begin transporting students, and even experienced bus drivers who move to D303 can not begin work immediately.

“Hiring experienced drivers is a lot better than hiring somebody that you have to train just because in about two weeks we can be driving as opposed to eight to 10 weeks,” said Reeves.

Reeves hopes that most of the district’s transportation needs will be met by winter break and predicts field trips will return to a regular basis during second semester.

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About the Contributors
Tyler Moore
Tyler Moore, Editor In Chief
Tyler Moore is the editor-in-chief for the Stargazer. He is a senior at North, and this is his third year on the staff. Tyler engages in student journalism because it helps him engage in events at North and talk to new people.
Antonio De Leon
Antonio De Leon, Staff Writer
Antonio is a staff writer for the Stargazer. He is a Sophomore and this is his first year on staff. Antonio engages in student journalism because he enjoys writing and informing others about what is happening in our community, and particularly likes to write reviews.
Holly Nguyen-Barba
Holly Nguyen-Barba, Staff Writer/Media Team
Holly is a photographer/writer for Stargazer. She is a sophomore and has been on the staff since 2022. Holly engages in student journalism because she enjoys capturing the special/important moments of things and sharing them with the world.

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