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SANDY — Office staff, mechanics, routers and others in the Canyons School District transportation department are preparing to drive routes to and from school this fall if they can't get enough bus drivers hired and trained in time.
"They are all licensed and able to drive, but instead of doing their jobs, we might just have to use all of them just to make ends meet," said Canyons School District Director of Transportation Jeremy Wardle.
School districts around Utah need bus drivers and need them badly. They say the school year could have some problems without more staff.
School bus drivers needed in Utah
The Canyons School District usually has around 200 drivers but is down around 40 this summer.
"Being down 40 bus drivers means it could be difficult for us to cover field trips and activities — things the kids really didn't get to do last year," said Wardle.
They've raised their wages to $21.19 per hour. Wardle said they will also train anyone and help them get the right driver license.
Bus driver shortage goes beyond Utah
He said this shortage is a nationwide problem.
Other school districts around Utah confirm it. Salt Lake, Granite, Alpine, Nebo and Davis say they need more drivers. For example, a spokesman for the Alpine School District said they staff around 325 drivers and are in need of around 15 more for the upcoming school year. Like the Canyons School District, it also trains drivers in-house and ensures they have the required licensing.
A spokesman for Murray School District said they are presently fine, but it is an ongoing problem and they are always hiring for backups.
Wardle said the shortages are due to COVID-19, retirements, attrition and people finding other jobs.
But Wardle said you may be surprised how much you love driving a school bus.
"It is really fun. If you want to come give it a try, we'll go out on the driving course and you can give it a shot," he said.