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D49 may have to cut bus routes if more people don't apply to become drivers soon

The district is short around 35 drivers
D49 may have to cut bus routes if more people don't apply to become drivers soon
Posted at 5:26 PM, Jan 27, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-27 21:19:51-05

COLORADO SPRINGS — One of the biggest school districts in our area--School District 49-- says it might have to cut down on its bus routes, because they’re so short on bus drivers.

If the cuts were to happen, it could mean a massive change in lifestyle for families depending on bus service to get their ids to and from school.

Angelica Marquez has two full time jobs. She’s a family engagement liaison for a D49 elementary school.

“Basically I work with families to see if there’s any resources that they need and make sure that they are engaged in our school,” Marquez said.

Her other full time job? She’s a single mom.

“I have one daughter,” she said. “She just started kindergarten this year.”

It’s nice to have a helping hand.

“She did depend on the bus when she was in preschool,” Maruqez said.

But for families like hers in School District 49, that helping hand could be going away.

“We’re currently about 35 bus drivers short,” D49 Transportation Director Jack Pietraallo said.

The district needs bus drivers. and it needs them now.

“We simply don’t have enough drivers to drive what our community needs,” Pietraallo said.

It’s not like they haven't tried to hire people.

“We’ve been doing workforce job fairs and advertising and just been doing all different kinds of promotions,” he said.

But they just aren’t coming.

“We have a retention and referral plan--a sign-on bonus for new drivers,” he said. “We do all the training in house.”

With more students returning to learn in person--bus routes could be on the chopping block.

“We’ve already cut our routes,” Pietraallo said. “We’re already limited.”

“For many of my families it’s been a struggle,” Marquez said.

For many of the families Marquez works with, losing bus service might mean cutting back on work hours.

“For the most part it’s been alarming,” she said. “It’s a struggle between ensuring that their jobs are kept.”

That’s why Marquez says it’s so important to stay connected.

“Start networking with other families in your school and see if possibly you can do a carpool,” she said.

And better yet, maybe give bus driving a try.

“If you guys are looking for a job, come work for District 49!”