Nantucket Public Schools are once again dealing with a bus driver shortage following an unexpected resignation just one week into the new school year.
"This is an ongoing, serious problem that we have been dealing with since last year," Superintendent Beth Hallett said. "Cape Cod Collaborative (the company contracted by the district to provide bus services) has struggled immensely to get quality bus drivers for our school district. I am pleading with parents and families to be as patient as they can while we try to find a solution as quickly as possible."
The situation was exposed Tuesday morning when a group of children on Old South Road were not picked up along their bus route.
"The children on the Old South Route were left standing on the side of the road this morning, with no notice or outreach from the school," island resident Sarah Morneau
wrote in a message to Hallett that was shared with the Current. Morneau is the mother of a second-grade student and kindergartner in the public school system. "This is absolutely unacceptable and unsafe. I realize that there were issues with the departing bus driver and little notice was given from him, but it is your responsibility to contact the parents to let them know they need to make alternative arrangements."
Hallett responded to say that the bus driver on the Old South Road route had unexpectedly resigned at noon on Monday without informing her, and had only given notice to Cape Cod Collaborative. Hallett said she was not made aware of the situation until nearly the end of the school day.
"From that point, I contacted CCC to begin troubleshooting," Hallett stated in a response to Morneau. "We had a plan in place for this morning that involved no changes to the bus routes or times, just a change in the driver. For that reason, I did not send an alert to the district, since only special education transportation was to change, and CCC had already begun contacting families whose children were affected. I suspect that something changed and the drivers themselves made some kind of adjustment that ultimately affected all of the students on the Old South route. I understand and fully agree that this is unacceptable to parents and families who are trying to help get their children to school on time."
Hallett is continuing to work with the Cape Cod Collaborative to address the situation, and on Tuesday afternoon, the district sent a message out to the school community about the situation that included a complete list of the morning and afternoon bus routes to and from the schools.
The school stated that the Old South Road/Madaket Road route and the airport route would be arriving approximately 15 minutes late for the rest of the week.
The Cape Cod Collaborative is now offering applicants for bus driving positions paid training, compensation of $42 per hour on Nantucket, and up to a $2,000 "new hire incentive."
Hallett urged anyone on the island who may be willing and available to become a bus driver to visit this link and contact Sabina Moldovan, human resources manager for the Cape Cod Collaborative at email@example.com.