Shelton isn’t alone in facing a shortage of school bus drivers


The 2021-22 school year is just beginning, and school systems across the region and state are already experiencing a shortage of bus drivers. According to a September 1, 2021 article published in the New Haven Register and the Connecticut Post, “The wheels of the bus were perfectly still this week in parts of the state, as bus companies say a nationwide shortage of drivers meant that there was not enough available to collect all the students because the schools reopened their doors after the summer.

The article continues: “The shortage has had a significant impact on Hamden, where the cancellation of some bus lines on the first day of school left 318 students scrambling for a Plan B …”

Jay Brock, a spokesperson for First Student, the Hamden bus contractor, called staffing drivers a challenge during the COVID-19 pandemic and was quoted in the same article, saying: “The student transport was already handling a shortage of bus drivers before COVID-19, and the pandemic has only exacerbated the situation … We are no different from so many other employment sectors that are struggling to fill openings , including retail, restaurants and hotels. “

Closer to home, parents of students at Newtown Public Schools were informed on August 27 by its superintendent of schools that All Star Transportation (which provides school bus service to several towns, including Newtown, Brookfield, Torrington and Ansonia) “… also encountered a worker shortages, which led to some changes in bus routes in the district to ensure full coverage. A variety of factors played a role in hiring new drivers , including a backlog of people awaiting background checks, training and licensure as part of the process.

This situation has not gone unnoticed by the Connecticut Association of Public School Superintendents. Its executive director, Fran Rabinowitz, said: “What I heard from the superintendents is that they had enough drivers… but they had absolutely no replacements.”

But none of that has stopped David Gidwani, a Shelton city councilor, from continually criticizing everyone in the town of Shelton when we have similar issues. He is either blatantly oblivious or has chosen to ignore the reasons why school systems are grappling with this problem nationwide. Since the time the town of Shelton became the supplier of school buses for public students, and especially over the past year, Mr. Gidwani has made it his business to criticize and blame everyone and everyone. associated with Shelton’s School Transportation Service, including Mayor Lauretti, for any delay or disruption in service when delays, cancellations and worker shortages occurred not only in Shelton, but throughout Connecticut and across the country .

If Mr. Gidwani is such a concerned public servant, why does he not take cognizance of the facts behind the difficulty in getting school bus drivers before he comes into criticism? Has he not read the reports that school bus drivers are in short supply? Many workers have no incentive to return to work because of the unemployment benefits they receive – even when the hourly wage is over $ 20 an hour. Doesn’t he know what the state of Connecticut requires from bus suppliers to hire a qualified school bus driver? Does he not understand the training they need to receive before they are allowed to drive? It is not a one day affair and it was all exacerbated when countless employees across the country did not come to work due to COVID-19.

Mr Gidwani spends his time writing newspaper editorials and Facebook comments that contain misleading information and false accusations to intentionally deceive the citizens of Shelton instead of using his alderman position to get the facts.

What Mr. Gidwani also fails to tell you is that during the 2020-21 school year, Shelton Schools never closed due to a shortage of bus drivers while several other communities did. Our school students received transportation each day the school was in session. I’m not saying it wasn’t a bumpy road, but we got through it. And in the 2021-22 school year, Mayor Lauretti and his staff plan to do the same.

Our city’s school system is finally returning to a semblance of pre-COVID life with children back to school and no distance learning. Not to mention the return of Shelton High School Football, something close to my heart, which we missed in 2020.

May everyone in our school system have a safe and successful year. Welcome back to all. Ride the Gaels.

Porter McKinnon

Republican candidate, 1st alderman of the parish

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