North East ISD officials said Aug. 8 they are 40 school bus drivers short as NEISD prepares for a new academic year.

In an Aug. 1 message to district parents and guardians, Superintendent Sean Maika said NEISD and numerous other school systems nationwide are experiencing a shortage of school bus drivers.

Maika said such shortages might be causing a few delayed student pickups and drop-offs. NEISD has budgeted 240 total bus driver positions for fiscal year 2022-23, district spokesperson Aubrey Chancellor confirmed.

“We will continue to do everything in our ability to help offset the shortage, including using full-time office staff, mechanics and coaches to fill in where needed. We will also continue to try to recruit new drivers,” Maika said of NEISD in his message.

Maika said NEISD, in its FY 2022-23 budget and compensation package, was increasing wages for bus drivers in an effort to attract more applicants. Bus drivers may now earn up to $18.50 an hour, he added.

Maika said NEISD was not planning to cancel any bus routes, but warned that because drivers must now cover multiple routes, the district was anticipating buses occasionally running late.

“This could run anywhere from 30-40 minutes each day. In addition, as we work to consolidate some routes in an effort to help, some students might have a longer bus ride than normal,” Maika said.

Maika said NEISD was using its Blackboard messaging system to provide parents and guardians with updates.

“We recognize that this is an inconvenience, and students and families will be impacted. As a district, we are committed to providing safe and reliable transportation services that accommodate all the academic and extracurricular needs of our students,” Maika said.

Northside ISD is experiencing a similar shortage, NISD officials said.

NISD Executive Director of Communications Barry Perez said the district was striving to hire 80 bus drivers and 40 bus assistants as of Aug. 2—three weeks ahead of the start of the district’s school year. NISD has a total of 450 bus driver positions, Perez said.

Perez said NISD’s starting hourly pay rate for bus drivers is $15.76, with that number increasing to $16.31 after six months of employment. NISD also offers paid commercial driver’s license training, Perez said.

Addressing its own school bus shortage, Comal ISD officials said the district was establishing “no service zones” and early drop-off times at CISD campuses.