School bus driver shortage causes concern

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The new school year now officially underway across the Rio Grande Valley. But there's already a new issue—some districts are up against a school bus driver shortage.

"It does affect us, because we are in a shortage of bus drivers,” said Roberto Guerrero, a bus driver for Hidalgo ISD. “We have to find ways to manage and make sure that all the children get home on time."

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Guerrero’s day continues to be split and he still needs to get up early for work. The shortage of bus drivers comes at a time when classes are almost completely in-person.

"It has been slightly different now due to the COVID situation because they have to be prepared now more than ever," Guerrero said in Spanish.

Hidalgo ISD has 27 school buses in total, but the district says they're short by as many as eight drivers—more than a quarter of their staff.

"Not having the numbers necessary to pick up all of our kids is — we have to make adjustments, and it's always a fear factor when we're not receiving the applications we need to fulfill a full staff with our bus drivers," said Hidalgo ISD Human Resources Executive Director Albert Guerra.

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And that problem isn't unique to Hidalgo; just an hour to the east, Harlingen ISD is facing the same challenge.

"Right now we have about 25 vacancies,” said Harlingen CISD Transportation Director Luciano Rubio. “We have about 63 routes that we do daily and we have about 20 routes for special needs."

The average pay for bus drivers starts at $15 an hour, but those are also generally not full-time jobs. McAllen ISD, for example, offers the average salary of $16.70.

However, those same employees are offered six-hour work days.

Several districts continue to hire bus drivers at competitive rates. If you are interested in applying, check the school district’s website.


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