A Delaware school is offering parents cash to drive their children to school for the year to help offset the bus driver shortage affecting schools nationwide.
“EastSide wants to pay you $700 for the year for dropping off and picking up each child from school,” said a notice to parents on the EastSide Charter School website.
The Wilmington school said the entire state is facing a shortage of bus drivers and “empowering parents is the best solution.”
The incentive is $700 per child and, “if you have 3 children we would give you $2,100,” the school notice said.
Nationally, the need for school bus drivers is expected to remain at “critical levels” over the coming months. That shortage will hurt the industry’s ability to provide consistent service stretching well into the school year, according to the National School Transportation Association.
Both contracted school bus transportation companies and district-run operations are struggling to find drivers, as a number of issues, including Covid-19-related health concerns and vaccine hesitancy, continue to escalate “despite the industry’s best efforts,” Curt Macysyn, executive director of the association, told CNN.
At EastSide Charter, school officials last month launched a survey for parents who would be interested in the program. One of the questions posed is whether parents can ensure their “child(ren) will be dropped off and picked up on time each day” by a parent or someone else, throughout the entire school year.
The school will still offer school buses “this year for anyone that requires transportation,” said the notice.
“EastSide is glad to be at the forefront of solution oriented approaches to this crisis,” the school said in a Facebook post on Monday.
Philadelphia school district officials have already rolled out a similar program to address the driver shortage there.
Philadelphia parents were able to enroll in the Parent Flat Rate Program, which provides “a $150 monthly payment (up to $1,500 total) per household for the 2021-22 school calendar year to eligible parents who choose to opt out of bus” transportation, said the district’s website.
Last month, Appoquinimink School District, just south of Wilmington, was looking for bus drivers and offering a $4,200 signing bonus, according to a post on the district’s Facebook page.
Classes at EastSide Charter School, which enrolls over 500 students, begin August 30, according to the school’s website.
CNN has reached out to EastSide and Philadelphia district for comment and statistics but has not yet heard back.
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