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Spencer County still struggling with bus driver shortage

Superintendent Chuck Abell says the district is doing all it can.

SPENCER COUNTY, Ky. — The shortage of school bus drivers continues to cause disruptions, delays and cancellations across the country.

Many parents are vocal about their disappointment, including in Spencer County, a district that’s been struggling for a while now.

Superintendent Chuck Abell says the district is doing all it can.

He said it’s been a problem long before the pandemic, but the district was able to mask it because not many kids were coming to school. 

Now, the issue is front and center and is even worse than before because a handful of drivers recently left. He said the remaining 28 drivers are already doubling up on routes.

Abell said the shortage is exactly what we’re seeing across all industries.

“It just so happens that transportation is the most transparent of those because it impacts our families immediately,” Abell said.

He said he knows it’s caused frustration because of cancellations.

“We obviously have parents that get frustrated with us, and understandably so,” Abell said. “We as a district greatly appreciate the understanding that they have shown to us.”

RELATED: 'The verbal abuse is horrid': School bus driver for 20 years says students behavior could be driving the shortage

In December, Abell says the board of education will hear recommendations about a pay increase that’ll hopefully increase retention and recruitment, but he’s not so sure.

“I’ve seen other districts in the surrounding areas that increased salaries and not have that much of an impact on the number of drivers that it attracts to the position,” Abell said. “It’s just a reflection of society that it’s hard to find people to work right now.”

Abell said he’s also looked into hiring outside contractors, but most of them are quickly taken by larger counties.

He said he hopes a better solution is reached soon, but for now, it’s important to thank the drivers who have stuck it out all this time.

“We’ve got drivers that have had to consolidate routes and take on additional responsibilities and it’s a challenge and I want our drivers to know that they’re appreciated,” Abell said.

He said he also appreciates the parents that have stepped up to fill the void, and says anyone eligible should apply.

► Contact reporter Bobbi McSwine at BMcSwine@whas11.com or on Facebook or Twitter.

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