The Niagara Falls City School District is planning to dismiss high school students at 2:30 p.m. instead of 3 p.m. to help alleviate the stress caused by the school bus driver shortage.
Superintendent Mark Laurrie says the district needs 60 to 65 bus drivers to operate efficiently and right now the district only has about 35 drivers.
“So, on any given day, depending on absences. We could be 20 to 25 bus drivers short,” said Laurrie.
Laurrie says their driver shortage isn’t just due to not having enough drivers behind the wheel. It’s because of other things as well, like sickness.
Since the start of the school year 8 school bus drivers tested positive for covid-19 and 8 of their associates tested positive as well.
“We’ve been in this for nine to ten weeks and the situation has actually gotten worse and not better,” he said. “It’s gotten worse because of driver illness and driver covid cases. So, with that, and with knowing it is going to turn to daylight savings time November 7th and the roads are going to become more impassable as the weather becomes more inclement. It’s time to act.”
He says, many of the high school kids sit in staging areas like the cafeteria at dismissal waiting for the school bus to pick them up to take them home.
“We know that we are putting high school kids in cafeterias and performing arts centers for up to 90 minutes causing the potential for conflicts, disputes, frustration, poor mental health,” he said. “We know that many of those older siblings need to get home for the younger siblings.”
Laurrie’s says his plan will give buses more time to take high school students home and time for them to take elementary kids home as well. He hopes to have the plan in place by November 8th .