Bus driver shortage reaching critical point in Saratoga County

Bus driver shortage reaching critical point in Saratoga County (WRGB)

SARATOGA COUNTY, NY (WRGB)--The signs of the shortage are everywhere, the side of the road, outside Walmart, even on Facebook.

School bus drivers wanted.

Joe Czub is the Transportation Supervisor for Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake Central Schools.

“It’s making it difficult to operate,” Czub said.

For school bus driver Christine Sarsick the skeleton crew, means good job security.

Not that she needs it.

“I’ve been with Burnt Hills 19 years,” Sarsick said.

Her district, Burnt-Hills Ballston Lake, needs to hire 10 school bus drivers.

Down the road at Shenendehowa Central Schools the situation is even worse, 20 open positions, mostly due to retirements.

Director of Transportation Al Karam says if they lose any more people, some students may have to wait about an hour for a ride home.

“It’s a profession I encourage people to look into,” Karam said.

Districts are doing what they can to attract new drivers, with Shen and Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake upping the starting pay to more than $19 an hour.

Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake has even developed a new recruiting tactic. One of the most intimidating factors for people is the thought of driving a bus, so now Czub is allowing applicants to test drive a bus if they are apprehensive.

He says a spin around the parking lot, which is allowed by law without the full training, is often all it takes to make people realize they are capable of doing the job.

This work allowed Sarsick to be a stay-at-home mom and earn extra cash for her family.

To be a driver you have to be 21-years-old, have a clean criminal record and a clean driving record. Drivers start off in part-time substitute positions.

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