GRANITE CITY, Ill. (KMOV.com) - Across the St. Louis region and around the country, bus driver shortages are impacting many school districts. In an effort to overcome the problem, the governor of Massachusetts is calling out 250 members of the National Guard to serve as bus drivers.
The Granite City Community Unit School District #9 is one of the hardest hit districts in the region. Because of a severe shortage of bus drivers, the district is not providing bus service to students in grades 5 through 12, except for special education students.
Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker on Monday activated up to 250 National Guard troops to help with school transportation at the start of the academic year, according to a statement from his office.
News 4 spoke with superintendent Stephanie M. Cann about the idea. She called it, "an interesting approach" and said she had already passed along the idea to Illinois state officials. In Massachusetts, guard members will drive smaller school bus vans that carry 10 to 15 students. Those vehicles don't require weeks of training and a special driver's license.
Cann said, in her district, guard members in vans could transport special education students which would free up more licensed bus drivers to carry larger numbers of students in full size buses. Angela Johnson is the parent of six children in the Granite City district and likes the idea of calling in the National Guard.
"Hey, that'll work, that would really work," she said.
Cann said the company that provides bus service to the district has new drivers in training. Johnson said guard members could fill the gap in the meantime and get more kids back in school.
"All these kids that can't go to school because their parents can't transport them, that would help out tremendously," said Johnson.