Several Oklahoma School Districts Continue To Struggle With Bus Driver Shortage


Wednesday, December 8th 2021, 4:45 pm
By: Amy Avery


TULSA, Oklahoma -

School Districts across Oklahoma are struggling to find bus drivers with some offering bonuses to attract new drivers.

Many say they're still losing a lot of drivers to better-paying jobs. A lot of Green Country bus drivers are driving double routes right now just to get kids to school, but they say this job is so rewarding and that makes it all worth it.

"I think it's in your blood,” said Frank Brazwell.

Frank Brazwell started as a bus driver at Union 26 years ago and knows every route in the district. He usually helps other drivers with discipline issues on the bus, but this year, he's filling in more due to a shortage of drivers.

"They have to take a back seat because the first primary job is to make sure that students get to and from school," said Brazwell. 

Union Transportation Director Susan Pettit says she doesn't remember a time they were fully staffed. She says before they even start their day, they have to find drivers for 8 routes or combine them.

"Every day we're even trying to fill more than that because people are out sick or can't be here," said Pettit.

Pettit says they’re also offering a $2,000 signing bonus to drive at Union.

In addition to Union, Jenks has 11 openings, Owasso has 5, Bixby has 3, Broken Arrow has 18, and Tulsa Public Schools has 15.

Smaller Districts like Sand Springs are also struggling. Sand Springs Transportation Director Jennifer Cummings says right now they're asking anyone in the district with a CDL to drive a bus.

"So far we haven't had to cancel any routes we just combine them and do our best to get students to school," said Cummings/. 

Sand Springs has drivers of all ages, including Neta Dunn, who is only four months away from turning 80. 

She's been driving buses for 45 years and says the biggest change has been the pay. She started at $1.30 an hour, but the thing that hasn't changed is the love she has for the kids.

"Those are my babies," said Neta Dunn. 

Because sometimes the rewards, outweigh the paycheck.

"Today I see them out on the street they grab me and hug me,” said Dunn. “They're still my babies, even if they are 40 years old."

If you’d like to apply to become a bus driver, we’ve listed some of the links below:

Union

Sand Springs

Jenks

Sapulpa

Owasso

Broken Arrow

Tulsa