School bus driver shortage continues to plague Mesa Unified School District

MESA, Ariz (FOX 10) -- The largest school district in the state continues to struggle with having enough school bus drivers, and it's starting to cause problems.

Officials with the Mesa Unified School District say they are still short about 60 bus drivers, which is why they are hoping to implement new changes for the next school year to make sure students are getting to and from school on time.

"A lot of vacancies, really difficult," said Scott Thompson, Assistant Superintendent of Business and Support Services for the Mesa Unified School District.

Making sure kids gets to and from school on time is one of Thompson's jobs, but he said that's becoming a challenge.

"We've had a really hard time finding people who want to drive a bus," said Thompson.

This is creating some big issues, including drivers having to double up on routes, which means sometimes kids are late to class. That problem concerns parents.

"If they're late, they're missing out of work and what they're learning," said one parent.

This driver shortage is not new, and Mesa Unified isn't alone. Many school districts are now looking at ways to alleviate the issue. Both the Gilbert School District and Mesa are looking at staggered start times for the next school year. That means some students could see a 10-15 minute change in their current pick up or drop off time.

"One driver can now handle three schools, as opposed to if there are conflicting times, then I've gotta add drivers to try and address that issue, and that's why we're making these changes," said Thompson.

It's all in an effort to maximize time in the classroom, and not on the bus. Meanwhile, the Gilbert School District's Governing Board is expected to make a decision on changing start times later this month.