Minn. school superintendent gets bus license amid driver shortage
ST. FRANCIS, Minn. (KARE) - As school districts across the country deal with a shortage of bus drivers, one Minnesota superintendent got her bus license in order to help out.
Superintendent Beth Giese of Minnesota’s St. Francis Area Schools says the district had to call off one school bus route for the day both Wednesday and Thursday.
“There is nothing worse than making that call and saying, ‘We can’t come get your children today,’” Giese said.
Like other districts across the country, St. Francis is in need of bus drivers, as a side effect of the COVID-19 pandemic. When drivers weren’t being used during the pandemic, they found other employment, and many of them did not come back.
“Since last year, we’ve just seen a decrease with our bus drivers in general. We were just really struggling,” Giese said.
With 60 routes, the district is down to about 10 to 12 drivers. So, Giese stepped up and went to get her bus license Wednesday. She will now be filling in as an emergency driver, and she also helps as an educational assistant on the bus.
“I thought, ‘This is something really small that I could do.’ So, I went and got my bus license to help fix the problem,” Giese said.
Giese posted about her decision on Facebook with the caption, “Never ask an employee to do anything you wouldn’t do yourself.” Her director of business services also plans to get his bus license to help with the routes.
“I can’t have kids that don’t have a ride home or ride to school. Again, if I can lead by example and we get 10 more people that want to get their license because of this, that’s great. Maybe I’ll never ever have to drive again, and that would be great, too,” Giese said.
St. Francis route specialist Melissa Johnson says Giese’s actions did indeed inspire others to apply for a job, and one new driver has already been hired.
“It seems to have really kind of woken up the community to our needs, and people are stepping up,” Johnson said.
The school district is offering prospective bus drivers more than $18 an hour, along with retention bonuses.
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