Before the sun rises during the school year in Freeport, Durham and Pownal, members of the RSU 5 Transportation Department are preparing to pick up our most precious cargo, our students, to transport them to school. Our team carefully completes required bus safety checks and ensures engines start, even on the coldest days of the year. All of this is done before the first student steps onto the platform of the bus.

Jean Skorapa is the superintendent of RSU 5, which includes the towns of Freeport, Durham and Pownal.

Bus drivers are the ambassadors for our schools. They greet our children each morning to welcome them to a new day of learning. They are the last face our children see before returning home at night safely. Our schools cannot function smoothly without them. Students who are unable to get to school cannot benefit from the nutritious meals or the environment to learn to play and develop friendships, and they can’t receive the instruction that is necessary to prepare them for their future.

In a September district communication, I shared that due to our bus driver shortage there may be occasions when we are unable to transport students on one or more of our routes. Due to the collaboration of our transportation team, all routes in RSU 5 have been covered to date. However, the outlook is not promising. Due to retirements and resignations, as of Dec. 5 we will be short six bus driving positions, including  full-time, part-time and substitute drivers.

Bus driver shortages are not unique to RSU 5. Throughout the state of Maine and the country, school districts continue to struggle with attracting and maintaining teams of drivers to transport children to school daily. Many districts, including districts in Southern Maine, send out notification to families daily informing them that bus routes are canceled or delayed due to the lack of available drivers. RSU 5 likely will be in a similar position in the future if new members are not added to our dedicated team.

Driving a school bus is a challenging, yet rewarding job. Please consider joining our transportation team. Contact RSU 5 Human Resource Coordinator Ashley Rand at 865-0928 ext. 232, or [email protected] to complete an application.

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