Virginia teachers get behind the wheel amid school bus driver shortage

Posted at 8:47 PM, May 20, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-20 23:26:01-04

PRINCE WILLIAM Co., Va. - If your kids take the bus to school in the morning, imagine how frustrating it would be if they didn't have a bus driver.

There's a shortage of bus drivers in school districts across the country, causing thousands of kids to get to school late - which means missing out on class time.

Reporter Hilary Lane tells us how teachers right here in Virginia are getting behind the wheel to help.

Nawah Mustafa and Cyndy Mattia

In Prince William County, sixth grader Nawah Mustafa's bus had been late almost every day for weeks.

"Once I honestly didn't do well on a test because I wasn't there for the first lesson of the class one day," said Mustafa.

The district was having trouble filling dozens of open bus driver positions.

"We were consistently having 100-200 students late to school each day," said Dr. Mary Jane Boynton.

So last year, Parkside Principal Dr. Mary Jane Boynton helped create a program to train teachers to become bus drivers, earning an extra $18.25 an hour.

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"Anything we can do to make the lives of our students better is our goal," said Dr. Boynton.

Parkside now has two teachers licensed to drive, including teacher Cyndy Mattia.

Since April, teacher Mattia has been driving and teaching every day.

"It's a piece of cake once you get the hang of it," Mattia said.

Prince William County is not the only district struggling to find bus drivers. A quarter of the country's top 50 largest school bus operators called the bus driver shortage "severe." That's according to School Bus Fleet Magazine.

The National School Transportation Association says the low pay and high stress level make it hard to retain bus drivers.

The school says the student tardiness rate has now been cut in half.

"It's a lot better. I attend all of my classes, I am not tardy all the time anymore," said Mustafa. "It's great; I love it."

Mattia says that's the reason she is loving life in the driver's seat.