School bus (front)

During a County Commission meeting in Franklin Monday night, County Commissioner Keith Hudson raised concerns of student safety after having received emails from concerned parents about students being forced to stand on school buses due to overcapacity.

Hudson and Superintendent Jason Golden attributed the capacity issues largely to a shortage of bus drivers. 

"I’ve been sent emails and also photographs of buses where students are standing due to lack of bus drivers," Hudson said. "I would like to know what are we doing in order to recruit more bus drivers, because we’re getting into a safety issue with the children standing."

Golden noted that students standing on school buses is against the district's policy, and that all bus drivers are instructed to stop buses until all students are seated.

"Bus driver recruiting is a challenge in Middle Tennessee and many metro areas across this country," Golden said. "We were in a crisis about two and a half years ago where we couldn’t — even with delays — serve all our students. Right now, we have a driver assigned to every route, but the reality is that people get sick on a daily basis, so we’re actually short on enough sub-drivers to be able to cover the days as folks get sick from time to time."

Following the meeting, Hudson told the Home Page that due to a lack of bus drivers, some drivers are forced to combine routes in both morning and evening routes, which sometimes leads to overcrowding.

Golden reiterated that Williamson County Schools is still very active in its search for more bus drivers, and would like to hire — at least — an additional 15 drivers.

"Do you know somebody, do you know somebody who might be retired and is looking for health insurance, because we cover health insurance for our drivers," Golden said. "That’s actually a very trustworthy attractive group of folks — retired from another job, they’re looking to work in the morning, a little bit in the afternoon and have free time in the middle of the day."

Williamson County Schools offers bus drivers a starting pay of just over $18 an hour, with paid training at $10 an hour, all of which is done within the county with certified trainers.

To apply online for a bus driving role with Williamson County Schools, click here.