The impacts of the national employment market are being felt deeply in schools across our state as they try to hire people to fill every position needed to safely maintain in-person learning. While all positions remain difficult to fill, the Department of Education recognizes that a lack of bus drivers and substitute teachers are perhaps the most crippling for schools in Maine.
The Department has been working with other agencies within the administration to seek creative or alternative, yet safe, options to address the bus driver shortage. Schools are competing with many industries who are also seeking certified commercial drivers, and additional requirements or restrictions for drivers will not help expand the pool of applicants.
To reduce further impacts, Governor Mills recently sent a letter to United States Department of Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, asking for a delay in the implementation of additional federal requirements for school bus drivers, as well as an extension to the waiver of a wait period for testing. It is the hope of the administration that barriers can be reduced while collaborative and creative solutions to support Maine schools are sought. The letter in its entirety can be read, here.
If you or someone you know may have an interest in making a difference in the lives of Maine’s children, please consider contacting your local or nearby school to learn how you can become a substitute teacher or bus driver.