‘I’ve never seen a shortage like this:’ West Fargo Public Schools are doing their best while bus driver shortage persists

The new school year fast approaches and West Fargo Public Schools are still looking for more bus drivers.
Published: Aug. 2, 2023 at 7:42 PM CDT
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WEST FARGO, N.D. (Valley News Live) -

“I’ve never seen a shortage like this. We’ve always struggled to find drivers over my 20 years and these last 2 years have been extremely hard to find employees,” explains West Fargo Public Schools Transportation Director, Brad Redmond.

With school starting in just a few short weeks, Redmond says they’re 20 drivers short of where they’d like to be. However, only a few years ago they were fully staffed.

Redmond says, “There’s an aging pool of drivers. We’ve relied heavily on retired people to do these jobs and as Baby Boomers are aging out, that pool is shrinking.”

One response to the bus driver shortage is expanding walk zones from 0.9 miles around all schools to 1 mile for elementary schools and 1.5 miles for middle and high schools.

“Expanding those walks zones has really put a lot of families in a situation where they have to figure out how to get their children to school and that’s been a big impact; it’s hard on our community and it’s hard on us at the transportation center,” says Redmond.

Parents who live in the expanded walk zone will now have to drive their students to school. Otherwise, they will have to trust their kids will be safe on the walk to and from school, which for some, may cover quite a distance.

Redmond understands the frustration parents are feeling. He says, “The big thing that I hear is, winter. When the weather gets below zero and that becomes, in their minds, too far for a student to walk to school.”

Redmond says he’s seen coaches, teachers, and parents step up to fill in the gaps, with some getting bus drivers licenses to help get kids to and from school safely.

He adds, “It is a very rewarding job. I’ve driven a lot of school bus over the last 20 years and the favorite part of my job is driving bus.”