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A bus driver shortage has the School District of Philadelphia offering thousands of dollars for parents and guardians to take their kids to and from school themselves.
The district will now offer $300 a month ($3,000 for the school year) for families to take their children to and from school, as well as $150 a month ($1,500 for the school year) if families choose to drop off their kids in the morning and have a cab or bus service drop them off at home in the afternoon.
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A nationwide bus driver shortage, coupled with “a significant increase in resignations and retirements at SDP and local garages, have disrupted our operations beyond what we initially anticipated,” Superintendent William Hite said Tuesday in a letter to district families.
He added that a tiered transportation model that the district implemented to deal with the driver shortage has not been enough.
In the meantime, the district has provided SEPTA Student Fare Cards to students eligible for bus, van or cab service and is talking with SEPTA about possibly providing fare cards to adults for families that don’t drive, Hite said. The SDP is also prioritizing transportation requests for students with special needs and is meeting with external vendors and community partners about helping with student transportation, he added.
Families interested in getting paid to take their kids to school can apply to the Parent Flat Rate Program online.
“We realize that this driver shortage has very real consequences for our students, families and staff, and we sincerely apologize for these service disruptions. Please know that we are taking this matter very seriously, and will continue to explore options until all excess trash is removed from our school sites and timely transportation services for our students are restored,” Hite said, referencing a trash collection problem that had refuse piled high and uncovered in some schools.
The superintendent encouraged people interested in becoming school bus drivers to apply online.
The School District of Philadelphia is not the only one dealing with transportation issues due to a dearth of bus drivers.
Philadelphia parent Nakeesa Greene said her daughter would normally take the bus to school, so the monetary incentive to get her there by car is welcomed at a time when gas prices are high.
“It’s all helping out. Teamwork, teamwork, getting these kids to school, I’m all for it," Greene said.