The Tennessee Conservative [By Jason Vaughn] –
School districts across the state continue to deal with transportation issues, seeking solutions for the ongoing bus driver shortage and now dealing with rising gas prices.
With the average cost for a gallon of gas reaching $4.52 in Tennessee, according to AAA, school systems are faced with trying to find the money in their budgets to cover the overage. This record cost is about 23 cents higher than the average cost just a week ago.
Departments are trying to save some transportation costs by cutting back on some of their summer travel for professional development. They are utilizing online platforms for meetings and communication instead of driving to them.
In addition to battling rising gas prices, many districts are also fighting to find enough bus drivers to cover all of their bus routes. Some have been forced to consider altering or eliminating bus routes to be able to afford to transport students.
*** Click Here to Support Conservative Journalism in Tennessee. We can’t cover stories like this without your support!***
Clarksville-Montgomery County School System already announced that they are planning to eliminate a number of bus routes due to the shortage of drivers. While this may be a benefit to the school system, it leaves many parents having to figure out a way to get their children to school when they are used to having the option of riding the bus.
Bart Barker of Wilson County Schools says they are spending the summer searching for additional drivers. He says they cannot control fuel costs, but the need for drivers is dire.
“Just getting those added drivers in here would mean more to us than you could possibly imagine and hopefully we will get them there in the summer months,” Barker said.
Dickson County School District also released a statement saying that they may be considering alternate bus routes in the fall and will be looking at bus usage for groups like athletic teams.
The statement reads, “As we begin our summer programming this week, we are monitoring fuel and bus routing carefully. Budgeting for fuel for the upcoming year is becoming more challenging due to the increases we are facing. If fuel prices remain high as we enter the fall, we will be required to deeply examine our transportation practices, especially for extracurricular activities.
Last Fall, Metro Nashville Public Schools noted that they were short 72 bus drivers. At that time, Sean Braisted, spokesperson for MNPS said, “The shortage of bus drivers here at MNPS and at districts around the state and country continues to present a challenge in meeting the transportation needs of our students.”
This week, MNPS acknowledged that the higher gas prices are proving to be a challenge for the district. Their current plan is to simply find money in the budget to cover the extra costs and to work towards greater fuel efficiency on the bus routes.
In a statement to News 2, MNPS said, “It is difficult to forecast long-term fuel prices but the school system says it will reallocate resources as needed to continue to provide transportation to students.”
About the Author: Jason Vaughn, Media Coordinator for The Tennessee Conservative ~ Jason previously worked for a legacy publishing company based in Crossville, TN in a variety of roles through his career. Most recently, he served as Deputy Director for their flagship publication. Prior, he was a freelance journalist writing articles that appeared in the Herald Citizen, the Crossville Chronicle and The Oracle among others. He graduated from Tennessee Technological University with a Bachelor’s in English-Journalism, with minors in Broadcast Journalism and History. Contact Jason at news@TennesseeConservativeNews.com