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SFPS Short Of Bus Drivers, Asking State For Help

The Santa Fe School District doesn't have enough drivers to cover all of its routes.
Kevin Meerschaert
The Santa Fe School District doesn't have enough drivers to cover all of its routes.

The Santa Fe School District is short of certified bus drivers and is asking the state for help.

 Currently the district has only 29 drivers to cover 39 bus routes which is putting a strain on the remaining drivers and parents trying to get their kids to school.

Superintendent Larry Chavez told school board members during Thursday night’s meeting that they are asking state lawmakers to provide funding to boost the pay of drivers from the district’s current $19 an hour to $25. A recent report released by the Legislative Education Study Committee has recommended higher pay for drivers.

The Santa Fe School District recently increased pay from $15 an hour, but so did neighboring districts.

Chavez says it puts Santa Fe at a disadvantage.

“We’re still going to be competing for the same small number of certified drivers right now,” he said. “For us, because of the cost of living it really does impact us differently than other communities but again they are also about if you become certified through a school district maybe tie them to the district for a year or two without allowing them to leave. What’s happening right now is when they go through our system, they become certified, they get the endorsement, then they leave for the private sector because they can pay more, that’s reality.”

Right now, the district is offering per diem stipends to families willing to drive students to and from classes at Milagro Middle School, Mandela International Magnet School and Early College Opportunities and Santa Fe high schools.

Chavez says they are studying how having fewer bus routes is affecting attendance.

According to the Santa Fe New Mexican, the paused bus routes are impacting students at Tesuque and Chaparral elementary schools, El Dorado Community School, El Camino Real Academy, Milagro and Ortiz middle schools, Mandela International Magnet School, the Early College Opportunities high school, Capital High and Santa Fe High.