COLORADO SPRINGS — Falcon School District 49 is in desperate need of bus drivers. On Wednesday, the school issued a press release stating that the shortage is at a critical point.
D49 is one of many school districts across the Pikes Peak Region who have had to add new rule snad changes throughout the year to keep up with restrictions.
“We had to reduce the number of routes running, it started with COVID,” said D49 Director of Transportation Jack Pietraallo.
According to D49, the pandemic forced limits on the number of students who could ride the bus, walking zones were put in place and routes were combine or cut. The district says with in-person learning picking back up, they are struggling to find enough bus drivers to cover their 1333 square mile foot print.
“We are short about 35 bus drivers in order to support students and go back to in-person, we need those positions filled,” said Pietrallo.
FOX21 asked D49 parents their thoughts on the issue and they said they are worried about the changes that could come if positions are not filled.
“As far as my high schoolers, there’s a waiting list and not a guaranteed rise, so at this point now that they’re back 50/50 I have to be their sole transportation and it’s hard,” said D-49 parent Jack Pietraallo.
“No matter how we slice it, our families will feel the pain and will have to plan for the inconvenience if we are unable to hire more drivers,” Pietraallo said.
D49 is actively pursuing new bus driver recruits, hoping to leverage the period of reduced in-person learning to hire and train drivers, who will receive a benefits package that includes taking home hourly pay during training while simultaneously earning a commercial drivers license.
“I understand covid put a damper on a lot of things but I still rely on this transpiration services to get safety to school,”said D-49 Steven Caswell.