Hopkins Co. Schools dealing with major bus driver shortage

Hopkins Co. Schools dealing with major bus driver shortage
Published: Jan. 19, 2023 at 4:11 PM CST
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HOPKINS CO., Ky. (WFIE) - A nationwide bus driver shortage is hitting close to home across the Tri-State.

In Hopkins County, a shortage of 20 drivers has brought challenges for school officials and bus drivers alike.

“You know people think it’s all about money, it’s not about money,” said Dolores Yates, who’s driven a bus for 37 years. “It’s about the insurance, and making sure the kids get to school safely every day, to and from school.”

Serving 16 schools and over 6,200 students county-wide, Hopkins County Schools Transportation Director Brandon McClain says they usually service 57 routes, but with only 37 bus drivers, that’s become a challenge.

“Our primary goal is to get kids to school, and we have less drivers than we’ve ever had,” McClain said. “I have some amazing people that do amazing things every day to get them to school.”

Drivers say sometimes kids get home as late as 6 p.m. at night, which wouldn’t be the case if they weren’t short-staffed.

“We take a route we don’t have a driver for, and my amazing drivers, they step up every day and they cut the route in half and they just make it work,” McClain said.

That group of drivers includes Yates, who has driven a bus for decades in the county. A mother of two, and grandmother of two, Yates says being a bus driver has its perks.

“You’ll be home with your kids in the afternoon, you can put them off to school, and then you’re off in the summertime and the days we don’t have to work,” Yates said. “That is a plus right there.”

Yates says a lot has changed over 37 years, but the shortage has made timing difficult. Through that all, she still finds a way to smile.

“This route I’m on right now, I couldn’t give it up for no reason right now,” Yates said. “Those kids are just so loving, and when I do silly stuff, oh my god, it’s a really good feeling.”

Hopkins County Schools are offering a $1,000 sign-on bonus to become a bus driver for the county.

In addition to that, a $500 referral bonus is applicable for any current staff member who refers a person to become a bus driver for the county.

The current beginning wage for a bus driver during training is $10/hr.

To apply and for more information on the job, you can find that on their website.