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WCSD to start school year on rotating bus schedule, still facing labor shortages

A WCSD bus driver watches a student walk away from the bus from his driver's seat after dropping him off.
Victoria Campbell
Washoe County School District
WCSD will start the 2022-23 school year on a rotating schedule that will not serve all students eligible for transportation each week.

The Washoe County School District will continue with a rotating bus schedule in the upcoming school year as critical labor shortages affect multiple departments.

District officials told the board of trustees on Tuesday that they will have to start the school year on a bus schedule that will not serve all areas of the county each week. Instead, one of the district’s four service zones will not receive routes on a given week at least until fall break. The rotating schedule is a result of a shortage of trained bus drivers.

Board president Angela Taylor is clear about what this means.

“Kids don’t get to go to school every day. There are very few things in my tenure on the board that have kept me up, and this is one of them. We do kids. We do education. We can’t do them if they aren’t there,” Taylor said.

The district originally moved to the rotating schedule last February, and officials had hoped to start the upcoming school year with full service. Trustee Joe Rodriguez notes that the schedule won’t just affect education, but it also will complicate the lives of parents.

“This is going to disrupt a lot of people’s daily jobs, child care, and things like that. I mean, this is a huge obstacle for our community,” Rodriguez said.

The district will continue daily service for children in special education programs and for those in seven rural communities.

While the district has made some new hires, they need to be trained, a process that takes three to five weeks. Officials also say that there are limited charter options and they are expensive.

Regional economic trends aren’t helping the district either, as unemployment sits at 2.9% in the county. Vacancies remain in nutrition services and housekeeping even as some new hires have been made.

Jose Davila IV is a corps member for Report for America, an initiative of the GroundTruth Project.

Jose Davila IV reports on K-12 education with a focus on Latino students and families in Northern Nevada and the Eastern Sierra. He is also a first-year Report for America corps member. Es bilingüe, su familia es de Puerto Rico, y ama los tostones de su padre más que nada.
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