Dec. 8—AUBURN — At least two bus runs for the Auburn school district have been canceled every day for the last three weeks due to a persistent shortage of drivers, according to Public Works Director Denis D'Auteuil.
The cancellations have been rotated among five or six drivers to spread out the impact among students, he said. Superintendent Cornelia Brown said the district has been relying on parents and community members to bring students to school when buses are canceled.
Beginning Monday, the number of canceled runs should decrease to one, said Deputy Director Scott Holland. The bus garage has identified two bus runs which can be done back to back by a single driver after switching drivers around.
Despite a hopeful staffing report in August, transportation has been a persistent issue for the Auburn school district over the last year. Runs have continued to be canceled this year due to a shortage of drivers.
"We've had (cancellations) all along," D'Auteuil said.
They believe the in-house driver training program started earlier this year has helped alleviate the district's driver shortage.
At an ideal staffing capacity, the Auburn school district would have 23 bus runs. D'Auteuil confirmed that some of these runs are currently doubled up due to a shortage of drivers. There are currently 15 bus drivers employed by the district, with four more in training.
As of this spring, there were 13 drivers, Holland told the School Committee in August.
"Filling any position right now is almost impossible, but the criteria you need to get behind the steering wheel of a bus is tremendous," said Chairwoman Karen Mathieu, adding that the requirements for certification have increased over the last 10 years.
Both D'Auteuil and Holland agreed with her statement.
Since the retirement of the former director of transportation William Hunter last year, Auburn Public Works has overseen the school district's transportation.
Across the river, the Lewiston school district has also regularly canceled bus runs due to a shortage of bus drivers this fall.