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'It's here, it's reality': Independence bus driver reacts to shortage causing route changes

Independence Bus Driver
Posted at 6:12 PM, Aug 05, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-10 13:20:28-04

INDEPENDENCE, Mo. — The bus driver staffing shortage has been a warning for months. Now it’s reality.

“Bam. It’s here,” Leann Wilson, a bus driver for the Independence School District, said.

ISD announced Thursday that it will increase its walking boundaries for middle and high school students.

That means Independence School District buses will no longer pick up middle and high school students if they live within one and a half miles of their school.

The walking boundary used to be one mile.

Wilson talked to KSHB 41 right after she completed practicing her new route.

She noticed that her new route did not include a high school student she used to pick up. She assumed it meant he was a part of the changing boundaries.

“I’m gonna miss that kid,” Wilson said. “They live so close to the school, but yet I picked them up. And he’s there every day on time ready to go with a smile on his face every morning. I’m not gonna see that now. And that breaks my heart.”

Independence School District superintendent Dr. Dale Herl said the district offered hiring and referral bonuses, offered to pay for commercial driver’s license training and tried to recruit recently retired bus drivers.

Wilson hopes help is on the way.

“Hopefully we can get different drivers, so we can get the routes closer to school,” she said.

She’s going to keep on driving.

“These kids are like my kids,” she said. “I’ve been doing it 10 years. It’s what I love."