Parents scramble to arrange transportation for kids as CPS faces bus driver shortage

Chicago News

CHICAGO — Parents in Chicago are scrambling to arrange transportation for their children to get to school as CPS faces a bus driver shortage exasperated by a recent wave of resignations.

A statement from CPS said that about 90 bus drivers resigned last week, bringing further difficulties to a staff that was already shorthanded.

The resignations resulted in the cancellation of bus service for more than 2,000 kids at the last minute.

The district’s requirement that all bus drivers be vaccinated against COVID-19 is believed to be the reason behind the recent resignations.

The district has offered affected students a $1,000 stipend for the first two weeks, with $500 a month being offered after that to pay for transportation.

CPS is not the only district grappling with a bus driver shortage, with the issue affecting districts nationwide. Some districts have offered signing bonuses to attract applicants.

In the suburbs, a school district in Palatine had to hire taxi drivers to help get kids to school.

CPS released a statement Monday morning addressing the shortage of drivers the district has experienced, while adding that 73 drivers resigned on Friday, August 27 alone.

The district has been anticipating and planning for bus driver shortages that have been unfortunately impacting school districts across the country. The district developed solutions and was able to secure staffing and assign routes to all eligible families, which was communicated to families the week of August 23. Pick-up times were scheduled to start approximately 15-30 minutes earlier than prior years in order to accommodate the shortage and, consistent with past practice, impacted families were offered travel stipends if the new time did not fit their schedules.

The week of August 23, approximately 10 percent of bus drivers resigned, with 73 drivers resigning on Friday, August 27 alone. According to the bus companies, the rush of resignations was likely driven by the vaccination requirements. As a result, the district went from being able to provide all eligible students a bus route, to being unable to accommodate transportation for approximately 2,100 students within a matter of days.

We are saddened and extremely frustrated by this situation, and we express our sincerest apologies to the impacted families for the inconvenience this has caused – especially with such short notice. While we understand it will not completely alleviate the predicament for families, we are offering transportation stipends of $1,000 for the first two weeks and $500 the following months for the 2,100 students without transportation, as well as students who are impacted by longer route times. We are committed to ongoing engagement and dialogue with families and will be working diligently with them to solve this problem moving forward.”

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