District still searching for permanent fix to driver shortage
Transportation to and from Crested Butte Community School has been a challenge for some bus-riding students so far this year, as well as for the Gunnison Watershed school district, which has been scrambling to fill several open bus-driving positions.
And the struggle isn’t over, as some of those drivers who came to the rescue have wintertime commitments elsewhere. The district is working to fill the resulting vacancies just as more kids need a ride to school.
“As the weather has gotten colder, some of the kids who live in Riverbend and Skyland, we’re now starting to pick up,” superintendent Jon Nelson said.
After starting the school year two bus drivers short in the wake of budget cuts that reduced funding for transportation, Nelson tried to find qualified people living in the upper Gunnison Valley to drive routes in Crested Butte South as well as one through town, instead of paying drivers from Gunnison to cover the routes.
Slowly but surely, enough drivers stepped up to cover bus routes for this fall. Nelson says the district was happy to have a commercial driver’s license (CDL) wielding former schoolteacher come out of retirement to drive a bus route in Crested Butte South and an educational assistant at Crested Butte Community School willing to drive a mini bus until he earns his CDL and takes the wheel of a school bus this winter.
But as winter approaches, one of the remaining drivers has another employment obligation and has to bow out. “He will stay on and substitute for us but he has other employment for the winter,” Nelson said. The replacement will need to be ready right after Christmas break.
If anyone with a commercial driver’s license and an hour and a half free at either end of the school day is interested in becoming a bus driver, contact the superintendent’s office at 641-7760.