School districts are the latest victim of Minnesota’s worker shortage

As students are starting out the new school year, schools are facing what has been a familiar issue to most businesses the last couple of months –– worker shortage. School districts in Minnesota have reported not having enough drivers to cover all their routes.

According to MPR,

In Minneapolis, the district is telling parents it will pay them to drive their kids to school because there aren’t enough drivers to cover all the routes.

The Stillwater school district is suing its bus contractor for breach of contract, arguing the company’s left more than 20 percent of district routes uncovered, KARE 11 reported.

On Tuesday, St. Paul Public Schools Superintendent Joe Gothard said a bus contractor dropped 40 routes in the last week, prompting the district to scramble for transportation.

For now, St. Paul will be staggering start times for seven schools in order to be able to provide bus service to them. The district is also canceling school bus service to four high schools, and instead offering students Metro Transit cards.

“I know this is extremely difficult,” Gothard said.

District officials said they would revisit the schedules during the holiday break at the end of 2021, but said they expected high school students to rely on public transit through the end of the school year.

The Minneapolis school district is not the only one facing a driver shortage. The Stillwater district has sued the company that provides their transportation for being late and the St. Paul district will be handing out Metro cards for students to use the transit.

According to the Star Tribune, the National School Transportation Association gave numerous reasons for the driver shortage, “including last year’s furloughs, low pay, a commercial driver’s license requirements, and COVID-19 safety concerns.”

It is easy for some people to dismiss worker shortage concerns due to low pay and other factors – the Minneapolis school district has not only offered to give a $3,000 bonus but also a raise from its $20 wage and training for drivers to get their commercial license – so expanded unemployment benefits seem like a more likely explanation.

As expanded unemployment benefits end, is highly likely that we will see some of the shortage alleviated. But regardless, we cannot ignore the havoc that this law continues to wreak.