12-year-old kayaked in class despite shortage of school bus drivers
- Many school districts across the country are facing a shortage of bus drivers to transport students.
- A boy from Colorado circumvented the problem by kayaking to school, local newspaper Summit Daily reports.
- He chose to take the kayak trip in part because he enjoys “new adventures,” he told the newspaper.
School districts across the United States are grappling with a shortage of bus drivers to take children to and from school.
In central Colorado, a middle school student whose Summit School District faces such a shortage took a creative approach to get around the problem. Instead of taking the bus, Josh Smith, 12, kayaked to school, according to local newspaper Summit Daily.
The college student received the kayak as a gift a few years ago and decided to use it to get to school on September 8.
“I’m always looking for new adventures and always trying to do cool stuff that I’ll remember,” Smith told Summit Daily. “I haven’t really used my kayak this summer, so I thought it was pretty hot, and tomorrow I should be kayaking to school, because then I can tell everyone about it.”
The boy started his journey around 7 a.m., recording it all with a GoPro. The temperature was 34 ° F, her father, Jason, told the newspaper.
Josh stopped on a small island along the way. The trip lasted about 35 to 40 minutes in total, so he entered class – still donning his life jacket – a little late.
Josh told the newspaper he wants to kayak to school again, and his dad supports the idea in warmer weather.
“He was there all by himself. He wasn’t overwhelmed with fear,” the boy’s father told The Summit Daily. “I want to reward someone who has stepped out of their comfort zone, especially at age 12, and who is willing to dare and take risks.”
Summit School District transport manager Andrea Meyer-Pemble told Insider the district currently has 11 bus drivers and five more are needed to be fully staffed. Due to the driver shortage, the district operates just 11 school bus lines this year, up from 18 lines before the pandemic.
“They now cover a larger area than before with the same bus capacity,” she said. “We are spreading our drivers around quite a bit trying to serve the same number of communities with a larger area to cover and more students on the bus.”
District middle school kids like Josh and high school kids have been placed in a lottery this school year to determine who gets a seat on the school bus.
“We had a lot more applicants than we had available space on the buses,” said Meyer-Pemble.
For a bus in a certain area, for example, there are 66 students who have a seat and 78 students on the waiting list for one. Other buses have shorter waiting lists or have been able to accommodate anyone who requested a seat, she says.
A number of school districts across the country have also been creative in finding ways to deal with the shortage of bus drivers.
In Chicago, parents received a stipend of $ 1,000 for public transportation or Uber or Lyft trips to get their students to and from school during the first two weeks of class. In New York City, Gov. Kathy Hochul asked state agencies to ask more than 550,000 residents with commercial driver’s licenses if they want to become school bus drivers. Earlier this month, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker activated 250 National Guard members to help students get to school. A charter school in Boston even used a party bus with a stripper pole to avoid having to cancel a school trip.
Many schools also offer incentives such as hiring bonuses to attract more staff, including teachers, bus drivers, and cafeteria workers.