Riding a bus to school, for the most part, was always part of my routine as a kid.

The anxiety hits when you oversleep and miss the bus. Oh no! Fortunately, or unfortunately, depending on your plan at the time, you make it to school.

It’s safe to say the school bus is a godsend. In more ways than one.

Let’s not forget the other important transportation roles they play for the school district. Events like school field trips, transporting the school band and the co-ed athletes from game to game.

National school bus driver shortage

As schools across America are dealing with a school bus driver shortage, many school officials have had to be creative. Transporting the entire student body is a logistic undertaking.

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Like a Gloucester County New Jersey district decided to do, many schools have altered dismissal times. A decision the Glassboro school district decided upon to cope with how the bus driver shortage is affecting them.

Superintendent Mark J. Silverstein’s letter to parents last said the Glassboro School District changed dismissal times. High school students would be dismissed from school about 45 minutes earlier to allow the older students to be released before the younger.

Other districts eliminated routes that placed more students on busses, added times to their travel, and created social distance issues.

Toms River is not immune.  Toms River school district director of transportation, Laurel Venberg, told Patch they are 50 bus drivers short, have over 30 open contract positions, and a need for about 2 dozen substitute drivers.

The lack of drivers is eating into the after-school activities.  Junior varsity and freshman sporting events have been forced to be rescheduled. Another solution is to ask parents to provide their kids transportation to games.  Not all parents are available to do so. Interim Superintendent Stephen Genco is not in favor of having kids drive themselves.

"We can't have 17-year-olds driving on the Parkway," he said.

Recently, 24 people have applied to be a Toms River school bus driver.  It’s not as easy as it appears.  There is a process by which one has to go through. This all takes time.

My good friend Evan just passed! He is now part of the bus driver staff in Mercer County.

Funny, he and I used to walk to the same bus stop as kids.

Rich DeSisto
Rich DeSisto

Criteria to drive a school bus

Have a valid New Jersey driver's license.

Be at least 21 years old.

Have a clean driving record for at least three years.

Pass a U.S. Department of Transportation physical and drug test.

A clear criminal background check.

Be fingerprinted.

Pass a written exam and road test to receive the CDL license.

Obtain passenger and school bus endorsements.

If you are interested in becoming a school bus driver, here are some job leads

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