Stay-at-home mom becomes bus driver, helping to alleviate shortage in Granite City School District | St. Louis News Headlines

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GRANITE CITY, Ill. (KMOV.com) – For the first time this school year, the Granite City School District is offering transportation to and from school to all students.

Prior to this week, only elementary aged students were guaranteed busing, as the district underwent a severe bus driver shortage. Students in grades 5 through 12 were forced to find another way to get to school, leading to dropping attendance rates, according to the district.

“I’m so appreciative, knowing this community pulls together the way it has during this,’ said Stephanie Cann, Superintendent of Granite City School District. “From getting rides, doing everything…it’s been amazing.”

According to the district, during the third quarter of 2021, it received 115 applications from perspective bus drivers. In a typical third quarter, that number is closer to 30. While the rate of those applying actually becoming drivers is about 20 percent, the district is pleased with the progress it has made.

“Between our campaign, Illinois Central School Bus and the local media, we’ve been really successful,” said Cann.

News 4 first highlighted the shortage in October, speaking with drivers who said they were overloaded and in desperate need of more people coming aboard. In the 24 hours after the story aired, the district said it received 14 applications. Within seven days, it saw 27 applications.

Heather Morris is in her first week of her new bus route. After being a stay-at-home mom for 12 years, she said she felt compelled to help her community.

“I just saw the crisis in our community and the impact it was having on everybody, and I just felt like I needed to do something to help everybody out,” she said.

She applied, went through the training course for her commercial drivers license and passed her test. Now, she’s shuttling students to and from school.

“It was a pretty exciting experience to be honest, and I’ve loved every step of it and I’m happy to be where I am, I really am,” she said.

She admits it can be intimidating, but she’s getting used to the feeling of driving a bus. She and others like her are the only reason the district is now able to reinstate its bus routes.

“It makes me feel really good that I’m helping out my community,” she said. “I have a daughter who is a senior and I know how challenging it can be for parents who have to get their kids to and from school when they work.”

According to the district, 2,850 students ride the bus everyday and it hopes to continue that effort.

“We just really appreciate our drivers who have stepped up,” said Cann. “Look at the difference they’re making…we have kids on buses.”

Copyright 2021 KMOV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved



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