Students sent home early due to bus driver shortage

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(ABC 6 News) – Students in Rochester Public Schools are facing the prospect of getting sent home early this school year because of bus driver shortages.

According to First Student, which provides busses to Rochester Public Schools, around 250 students from John Adams, Dakota, and Willow Creek Middle Schools were sent home 30 minutes early yesterday.

First Student said that getting those students home early freed up drivers to cover other routes at other schools. RPS is short six to seven drivers in the morning and 10 to 11 in the afternoon.

First Student said if a few of their bus drivers have personal emergencies, the company gets behind like they did yesterday.

“It piles up some days and there’s no control over that. It’s a moving picture. It’s different every day. We coordinate so closely with the school district every day. We’re still hiring,” said Michael Pearse, the location manager at First Student in Rochester.

Rochester Public Schools responded in a statement:

There is a significant bus driver shortage nationwide and we are experiencing that in our community as well. Yesterday, we had to dismiss middle school students from several routes 30 minutes early to safely and efficiently deliver students to their destinations. First Student is actively working to recruit additional bus drivers.

Further south, Austin Public Schools said they are not short any bus drivers at the moment. However, nearby Albert Lea Area schools said they are struggling and are short three to four drivers.

First Student is hiring drivers over the age of 19 at a $20 starting wage. They also provide a $3,000 sign-on bonus. Application information can be found here.

Albert Lea Area School bus driver application information can be found here.