Bullitt County Schools Continue To Battle A Bus Shortage


Braylen Ferrell

Students have been heavily affected by this shortage, whether it’s being late to school, or being forced to walk home.

Braylen Ferrell, Staff Writer

A shortage is striking Kentucky schools. 

Parents and schools alike are concerned with the growing problem of missing bus drivers. 

Transportation director, David Phelps, unravels reasons behind the driver shortage. Phelps explains future plans to halt the muddle. As well as spreading an important message to concerned parents. 

 A mere few years ago, schools had a plethora of drivers. If one was out, there were plenty to take their place. Now, some buses are lucky to have a driver at all. “COVID certainly made the problem worse. Some people retired earlier than they otherwise would have.” David Phelps said, the director of transportation for Bullitt County Public schools. While the shortage is hitting its hardest now, its origin began back in 2020. 

COVID isn’t the only factor however. “ I am going to say one of the main issues is how long it takes to get qualified. It can take several weeks to become a bus driver,” Phelps said. Long training can cause potential hires to look the other direction, or at other fields. “I will mention the issue of pay. Would higher wages help? Likely it would help some. I also want to say most jobs in education do not get paid what an individual could make in the broader marketplace.” Phelps said. With other employment offering better payment on top of a strict training regime, many potential drivers will choose a different route. 

While drivers are a field that has been affected the most, many other fields are facing employment shortages. “There is almost a nationwide shortage for staffing in certain fields. The people who hire nurses, bank tellers, custodians, wait staff, and more are all looking for good employees,” Phelps said. On top of this, “I hear of hospital staffing in Louisville at times offering bonuses of $50 to more than $100 per hour and still having staffing issues.” Phelps said. Even with generous compensation, an employment shortage is striking all over America, in every job aspect. 

Bullitt County Schools  aren’t the only schools being affected by this drastic shortage. “I do get phone calls and emails from other directors and other counties with similar and sometimes even worse problems. I see news items, talk with people at the state level, and am hearing that well over 90% of school districts nationwide are facing similar staff shortages.” Phelps said. Schools all around the state are facing this challenge, and it is going to take our state community to move past it. 

Phelps, staff, and other directors have jumped onto the complication. “We are spreading the word that we are training and hiring drivers. We, besides operating the department, are training nearly every day. The school district will be implementing some of the best routing software available to improve our efficiency.” Phelps said. With plenty of action going into the driver shortage, many are hoping to see an improvement sooner rather than later.

“I believe we can greatly improve the situation, however, it will take some time.” Phelps said. The best of the best technology on top of excellent training sounds amazing and hopeful. Unfortunately, with such a large-scale shortage, a quick fix is unlikely to happen.  

“The community has mostly been patient and understanding. I am thankful for that. I too wish we could go back to normal, how things were just a couple years ago. I would want parents to know we are not ignoring the problem and are working everyday to improve the situation, even if the results are slow to be seen. Although it seems this problem hit our nation overnight, it likely was developing for some time. It will take some time to fully fix it.” Phelps said. Even in a tough position, parents have given drivers the benefit of the doubt, which everyone behind the scenes is grateful for. 

“Spread the word that we are hiring.” Phelps said as his main message to parents. Phelps is reaching out to those who want to help the young people of Mount Washington. With a situation like this, it is going to take the town as a whole to fix it.