Officials Apologize After Bus Driver Shortage Shuts Down Maine School

Jan 14, 2019

School officials in the town of Swanville apologized to parents and students last Friday night after a shortage of bus drivers earlier this week forced them to close the town's elementary school for a day - but assured families that the problem wouldn't happen again.

At a public forum, attended by roughly two dozen community members, parents of students at Nickerson Elementary School told officials that they were unhappy to find out on Monday morning that class was cancelled due to the shortage. 

The town's older students were given the option to either stay home or find their own transportation to the district's middle and high schools, in Belfast.

B.J. Moore, a Swanville resident and parent, said the incident left his family scrambling when it found out about the cancellation. Moore added that he wishes the district had been more transparent about the bus driver shortage with parents.

"I've been a resident, going to school here since the 80s. This has never happened," Moore said. "So what has changed to make this all the sudden become a problem? It's not like something we've seen coming. It's here."

District Superintendent Mary Alice McLean told parents that Monday's shortage was caused by several drivers calling out, without enough substitutes to fill in. She said the district is currently working to recruit more drivers and assured parents that officials have worked together to create a plan to ensure that school won't be cancelled again.

"It won't happen again," she said. "I can say that with absolutely confidence. Because of the planning that we've done."

Several other school districts in Maine have complained of bus driver shortages this school year, with some increasing driver pay and providing free training in response.