How rising diesel costs are impacting local Georgia schools

Published: Aug. 5, 2022 at 11:40 PM EDT
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CHATTAHOOCHEE VALLEY (WTVM) - The first day of classes is beginning for some schools across the Chattahoochee Valley, and they are implementing changes to curb bus driver shortages and rising gas prices. Two schools in our area are managing by either decreasing areas of their budget or changing bus routes.

Some Chattahoochee County students may recognize their bus driver. Their superintendent says some current employees volunteered to drive buses as well. Harris County, on the other hand, will be combining bus routes to make up for the lack of staff.

It was the first day back to school for some students in Muscogee and Harris counties. Both districts say one problem they’re still dealing with is a bus driver shortage. While it’s unclear how many drivers Muscogee County schools need, Harris County needs 14.

In a statement to News Leader 9, Justin Finney, assistant superintendent of business services and technology for Harris County Schools, stated, “To date, we’ve received 19 new driver applications; however, it takes 35 to 45 days for drivers to complete the training required by the state and the district. We may not see new bus drivers on the road until September.”

Another problem schools across the Chattahoochee Valley face are rising diesel fuel costs. The average price for diesel gas across Georgia and Alabama is nearly $5 a gallon. But, that’s something Chattahoochee County Schools budgeted for.

“We actually increased our line item for transportation 65%. So we made some cuts in administrative costs and basic operations so that we could go ahead and plan for this year.”

Harris County Schools have either changed or combined certain bus routes to handle the costs.

Going back to Chattahoochee County, the school district’s $90,000 transportation budget increase was just one change to ensure they had enough bus drivers.

“We do have three to four coaches or teachers driving for us,” said Dr. Brooks. And of course, we’d love to be able to fill that with full-time bus drivers, but we know that we’re all short on that.”

Starting pay for Chattahoochee County drivers is $15 an hour, but most drivers make $18 to $20 an hour. Speaking of pay, Muscogee County Schools now offer drivers $17.25.

To apply to be a bus driver for the following counties, click the links below:

To find the following bus routes, click the links below:

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