Nantucket Public Schools Superintendent Beth Hallett provided an update during Tuesday’s School Committee meeting on the bus driver shortage prompted by the sudden resignation of one driver, who Hallett said had served as the coordinator for on-island transportation.
Hallett said that she is hopeful that an additional bus driver will be sent to the island for a few weeks until a new, permanent bus driver is ready to begin as early as October 2.
“Things were a little shaky last week but our three remaining drivers along with our bus monitors have really been rockstars and have pulled together and made last-minute arrangements to put students on the correct buses,” Hallett said during the meeting.
Hallett added that she has been having conversations with Cape Cod Collaborative - the company that the school contracts with to provide bus services - on an “almost daily” basis and said the substitute driver could be on-island any day.
Athletic Director Travis Lombardi also spoke about the challenges the bus situation presented to the sports teams early on in the season. He said the challenges pertained to picking up away teams more than anything else.
“Most teams Monday through Friday are taking the 2 p.m. Steamship and getting here at 3 p.m.,” Lombardi said. “So what's happening now is with the lack of bus drivers they're getting picked up at 3:30 p.m. - 3:45 p.m. The first day this driver was gone, we had a team picked up at 4:15 p.m. and we were supposed to start the game at 4 p.m. We’re making it work and all the visiting teams are very understanding of the situation. So that's been a little hurdle for us. But we're making it work.”
Committee member Laura Gallagher said she attended a Cape Cod Collaborative meeting last week and that while it was made clear Nantucket isn’t the only district dealing with driver shortages it is “in the worst shape” and that the island’s driver situation is “the most dire.”
Hallett expressed her appreciation for the patience and assistance parents, students, teachers, and others have shown throughout the entirety of this situation.
“I just wanted to take a moment to thank our parents and all of our staff members, particularly at (Nantucket Elementary School) and (Nantucket Intermediate School) and also the Special Education/Special Services Department for managing these challenges related to this abrupt change in one less driver,” she said. “It has not been easy so certainly I appreciate everyone putting in the time and being patient around these challenges.
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." This pay is significantly higher than the $28-$30 per hour being offered off-island.
Hallett has 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.