School Staffing

Two U.S. Executive Departments Partner to Address School Bus Driver Shortage

The U.S. Department of Transportation recently announced that it is coordinating with the U.S. Department of Education and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to address a labor shortage of school bus drivers. According to a news release, states will have the option to waive the portion of the commercial driver’s license (CDL) test requiring test-takers to identify “under the hood” engine components. Applicants will still have to pass all other parts of the test as it currently stands.

The move is designed to help keep K–12 schools around the country open for in-person, full-time learning amid worker shortages.

“The Administration is listening to the needs of school communities and remains committed to making sure schools are open safety for in-person learning full time,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona. “We’ve heard from educators and parents that labor shortages, particularly of bus drivers, are a roadblock to keeping kids in schools. Today’s announcement will give states the flexibility they need to help increase the pool of drivers, who are a key part of the school community, and get kids to school safely each day where students learn best. And American Rescue Plan funds can be used to hire these critical staff, including offering increased compensation or other incentives to recruit and retain staff.”

The FMCSA waiver became effective on Jan. 3, 2022, and it expires on March 31, 2022. Drivers who earn a CDL underneath the waiver will be allowed to operate only intrastate school buses. They will not be eligible to operate “trucks, motorcoaches, or any other type of commercial motor vehicle requiring a CDL,” said the news release.

“This federal waiver will help states that are short on bus drivers,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. “By allowing states to focus on the testing requirements that are critical to safety, we will get additional, qualified drivers behind the wheel to get kids to school safely.”

About the Author

Matt Jones is senior editor of Spaces4Learning. He can be reached at [email protected].