Teachers in Iowa are getting behind the wheel amid school bus driver shortage

Several teachers and administrators in the district are getting their commercial driver's licenses to help kids get to school.


Hiring school bus drivers in Iowa has become a difficult task.

It's been such a challenge for the Newton Community School District that teachers are doubling as bus drivers.

"We've go the buses to go on the road, but we don't have the people to go behind the wheel," said Tom Messinger, Newton Community School District superintendent.

More than 700 Newton students rely on district transportation to get to school.

Several teachers and administrators are getting their commercial driver's licenses to help kids get to school.

The district says they can get kids to and from school, but there will be delays.

"We want to get the kids to and from school safely and as quickly as possible, but sometimes we cant the home as quick as we'd like," said David Kretz, Newton Community School District transportation supervisor.

Due to the driver shortage, the district has to combine routes.

Gena Neasham has a daughter in third grade who takes the bus to school. She doesn't want to see her daughter's commute get extended.

"It would just be stressful for the kids to have to ride any longer than they do. I mean, some of them are already riding 45 minutes or so," says Neasham.

The district is stretched thin just to get kids to school, so extracurricular activities could be the next trip cut short.

"If there are times where we can't get enough drivers, then we'd have to either reschedule an event or potentially even get there late, or drop kids off early with supervision," Messinger said.

The district said a third of the school's bus drivers left during the pandemic.

With retirees making up a large portion of their drivers, they're worried about future transportation.

"As far as people coming in and applying off the street, it's almost nonexistent," Kretz said.

"With it being more and more difficult to find drivers, we're going to have to continue to explore some of the other options," Messinger said.

Newton Community School District is looking to hire at least two more drivers.

Krtetz said nobody has applied for those spots.