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Employment in lower districts results in limited bus routes

Parents and students at Dripping Springs ISD have noticed one major change as we approach the 2022-2023 school year: bus routes.

DSISD is one of many school districts across the state and nation experiencing a shortage of bus drivers. The problem has been compounded by new federal regulations that took effect earlier this year. These rules, known as entry-level driver training, required prospective drivers to meet minimum federal training requirements before being allowed to take certain CDL tests, including those for school buses. The enactment of the ELDT not only increased the time needed to train bus drivers, but it also increased the price – often by several thousand dollars, depending on the school.

Due to the increased difficulty in finding drivers, some districts – including DSISD – had to shorten their bus routes just before the start of the school year. This left many families in the district outside of the coverage area, with neighborhood residents of Rim Rock, Heritage Oaks, Big Sky Ranch, Ledgestone, Belterra and others reporting loss of coverage.

As emails about the reduction of bus routes began to arrive, parents took to social media to voice their frustrations and concerns.

“The question is, if we can’t pick up our kids because my wife and I both work, is the district going to be held responsible if we ask our kids to walk home or ride bikes? ?” asked Legacy Trails resident Juan Llerena. “Will there be more pedestrian crossings?

“This is the first year I have children in elementary and middle school,” said substitute teacher Marie Strang. “It makes it difficult to replace because I have to pick up and drop off the kids instead.

DSISD is currently seeking to fill 12 bus driver positions and four bus monitor positions, according to Blake Barrington, communications specialist for the district.

“There just isn’t a quick fix to fill these positions right away,” he explained. “Even if we find people, they still have to go through 4-6 weeks of training.”

The shortage of bus drivers, Barrington said, was carried over from last year and worsened with drivers quitting over the summer.

“Last year we were short drivers,” he said. “Some were doing multiple waves, doing a lot of extra work, which was not a sustainable option. But we didn’t have a lot of openings last year, so it was kind of doable.

The district increased driver pay this year in an effort to attract new applicants, raising wages from $18.75 an hour to $21.50.

“That’s pretty high compared to most districts,” Barrington said. “The pay is pretty good for an auxiliary position, but Dripping Springs is just an expensive area to live in. We have several drivers who come from surrounding communities because they can’t afford to live where they work.”

Asked about additional employment opportunities in the district, Barrington said: ‘Overall it’s nothing too crazy apart from bus drivers. “We have different departments with multiple positions open – the special education department has multiple openings – but the teacher and teacher aide positions have mostly been filled.”

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