Dear Hooksett Families,
As you know, the shortage of bus drivers is an issue for the vast majority of school districts in the state. Unfortunately, we have felt the effects of this shortage firsthand. The situation in Hooksett has progressively deteriorated since the start of the school year, resulting in many of the bus routes being significantly delayed both in the morning and the afternoon.
The shortage of bus drivers is being driven by three factors. First, some drivers are finding work with other businesses that offer higher salaries and/or health insurance. Since we use a private contractor Student Transportation of America (STA) to provide bus transportation for the school district, we do not have any control over the salary and benefits which the drivers receive. Second, some drivers are leaving because they are afraid of contracting COVID-19. Finally, other drivers have been quarantined as a result of contracting COVID-19 or from having been a close household contact.
Since the beginning of the school year, we have been in daily contact with the manager of the bus company as well as the regional manager. We have conveyed the negative impact this is having on our students and expressed that this situation is unacceptable. Though they are trying to recruit new drivers, I have stressed to them that they need to redouble their efforts and that they need to be more creative in how they recruit new drivers and retain the drivers they have. We have also reached out to other bus companies that service neighboring school districts to see if they could provide additional drivers. Unfortunately, they are also having difficulty hiring new bus drivers.
Please know that I understand the disruption this is causing in the lives of many of our families. I will continue to work toward finding a resolution to this matter.
William J. Rearick
Superintendent of Schools