BARNHART, Mo. – A school district in Jefferson County is cutting their bus service for certain students due to driver shortages which causes many parents to fear for their children’s safety.
The district said it notifies parents of students living within one mile of elementary and middle schools along with those within two miles of high schools who will no longer be offered bus rides.
A mother of a 12-year-old boy in Barnhart in the Fox C-6 School District said her son was getting ready for his first year at Antonia Middle School, but he was not eligible for bus service under a new service plan.
They said they live about a half-mile from the school. The mother who does not want to be identified said it’s dangerous for her son to walk. She said he would have to cross Route M to walk to school, a divided highway with a 60-mile-an-hour speed limit.
“I thought we were in the clear until I got that email (from the school district),” she said. “I specifically had an email saying that he did not qualify. I was hot! I was extremely upset because there were no stoplights. There’s no crosswalk and that is extremely dangerous.”
According to a spokesperson for the Fox C-6 School District, the district needs 82 bus drivers to provide service for close to 11,000 students. Currently, they are 14 drivers short in spite of pay increases and an intense hiring effort.
Multiple districts including ones in the St. Louis area faced the same issue. Mehlville Schools are 16 drivers short and the district has not announced its transportation plan.
Parkway Schools have notified parents that bus service will no longer be offered to students who live within a mile of their schools, but the change only applies to students who live in neighborhoods with sidewalks and no major intersections or highways to cross.
Fox C-6’s parents said they are hoping for the same exceptions to be adopted before school starts in two weeks.
Missouri state law requires that districts offer bus service only to students who live beyond 3.5 miles of school.