Bus Driver Shortage Could Result in Staggered Start Times

A shortage of bus drivers may soon force the Herscher School District to implement staggered start times.

Herscher Pilot photo

Monday evening’s Herscher CUSD2 board meeting began with a public hearing regarding the Budget for FY 2021-2022.

Supt. Rich Decman reported that all funds are showing a positive balance compared to last year, in part because of the 1.3 million dollars that were given to the district from the State of Illinois Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund.

Decman also shared the 6th day enrollment for the year which shows an increase in the district’s students for the first time in 20 years with a growth of 64 students from last year. The total district enrollment for 2020-2021 was 1562. The 2021-2022 total enrollment is 1626. The size of the district peaked in the early 70’s with 2615 students in the 1973-1974 school year.

The Kankakee Area Career Center is discussing the possibility of offering an EMT program to fulfill the great need in this area. 

The Herscher district is experiencing a severe shortage of bus drivers. Various strategies and incentives have been offered to no avail. And, the situation may soon become even more dire.

Supt. Decman expressed that if bus drivers choose to leave the profession due to the upcoming state mandate which requires either vaccination or weekly Covid testing, the district may need to resort to a staggered start in school times to accommodate the remaining bus drivers. 

Decman stated, “If bus drivers resign because of the mandate, the district will go to remote learning for 3-4 days give families a chance to make accommodations for new staggered start schedule.”  He emphasized, “But only if we absolutely have to because of a lack of bus drivers.” 

He encourages anyone who has a CDL or wants to get a CDL that there will be a job available in the district.

Regarding personnel, resignations were approved for Ethan Brown – LMS Custodian & LMS Wrestling Coach, Tanya Ling – BGS Parapro, and Kristi Hendershott – LMS 6th Grade Girls Basketball Coach.

The following people were appointed: John Benoit – LMS Custodian, Roberto Jaime – HHS Volunteer Assistant Soccer, Mike Tejes – HHS Volunteer Assistant Football, Dawn Schwarzkopf – HHS Volunteer Assistant Cheer, and Drew Boudreau – LMS 6th Grade Girls Basketball Coach.

In addition, the board approved the Herscher CUSD #2 Budget for FY 21-22, the Administrative Salary Report the 2021-2024 Mechanic Contract, and the School Maintenance Project Grant (to assist with the HVAC units across the district).