Still shorthanded, ASD releases update on bus driver staffing

School bus services strained by a lack of drivers are “on track to be fully staffed” later this fall, according to a letter sent to parents from ASD.
Published: Sep. 9, 2022 at 5:14 PM AKDT|Updated: Sep. 9, 2022 at 6:38 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - School bus services strained by a lack of drivers are “on track to be fully staffed” later this fall, according to a letter sent to parents from Anchorage School District.

Four new drivers will begin working for the district on Monday, Sept. 14, but the district remains eager to hire even more bus drivers and attendants.

Currently, ASD employs 168 bus drivers, with 37 additional drivers in training and 20 candidates.

The district still needs to hire at least 60 more drivers to reach its goal of 228 drivers. The district said they hope to have at least 200 drivers by the end of October.

The district has divided those students eligible to receive bus services into three “cohorts,” with one group at a time receiving bus service. The first changes to the current bus schedule will occur on Sept. 12, when bus service switches from serving Cohort 1 to Cohort 2.

Cohort 2 will primarily target the northwest side of Anchorage, along with parts of southeast Anchorage. This includes schools such as West, South, and Service High Schools. ASD is warning families and community members who lived in the cohort 1 region — which covered the northeast and northwest sides of the city — that they may see additional routes of traffic in their areas. Students who originally had a bus route transporting them to school will no longer have that option with the cohort switch.

In addition, students who live on Joint Base Elmendorf Richardson will see members of the 673rd Logistics Readiness Squadron will drive school bus routes on base, allowing drivers currently on JBER routes to drive off-base.

“Specifically the 673rd Logistics Readiness (Group), we have four airmen that will be starting this Monday, and that will free up an additional four drivers that can serve the greater Anchorage bowl,” said Superintendent Jharrett Bryantt said.

In addition to more bus drivers in route, the district has also been able to add permeant bus routes to their routes. They say, as additional hiring happens, more routes like this will be possible.

“It’s noteworthy that when we first stood up the cohort model we were transporting about 8,000 students as of 22 August,” said district Chief Operations Officer Rob Holland. “Now as we rotate into cohort two this coming Monday, we are transporting just over 10,000.”

Despite additional staffing, traffic is still expected to be heavy during drop-off and pick-up times near Bartlett High School, Begich Middle School, Bettye Davis East High School, and Wendler Middle School.

This story has been updated with additional information.