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Bay City Public Schools in need of bus drivers before school year starts

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By Frank Turner, James Paxson

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    BAY CITY, Michigan (WNEM) — As districts prepare for students to return to the classroom, many are facing shortages of a critical resource, bus drivers.

Most districts already struggled with bus driver shortages before the pandemic and with most schools expected fully back in the classroom this fall the problem is expected to get worse.

Bay City Public Schools still learning the hard lesson of how to operate during a critical bus driver shortage. The district’s desperate need for drivers stayed constant throughout the pandemic but improved a bit by better wages offered and headway made against COVID-19.

“Right now, our entry level wage is $16 if they end up being hired through our district, and we also contract through a service called Metz which supplies additional bus drivers,” said Stephen Bigelow, Bay City Public Schools superintendent.

The district and its third-party provider are both looking for new drivers.

“If they go with Metz their pay’s a little bit higher but Metz drivers do not have the same health benefits you would get if you’re a Bay City Public Schools Driver. So, our drivers are eligible for health, dental and vision insurances well,” Bigelow said.

The COVID-19 pandemic only complicated to the chronic issue. Schools across the state are suffering the same shortage of drivers.

With schools returning to in-person instruction, it’ll be difficult for the upcoming school year, but Bigelow said they’ll meet their transportation needs one way or another. The district has roughly 260 square miles to cover.

“We’re constantly hiring bus drivers, I’ll take as many as I can get, the more bus drivers we have the more runs we can put out there which means less time on a bus for all of our students,” Bigelow said.

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