As the school year approaches, Utah schools are suffering a staff shortage

Jul 7, 2022, 6:00 PM
With the 2022-2023 school year on the horizon, some school districts in Utah are struggling with a ...
With the 2022-2023 school year on the horizon, some school districts in Utah are struggling with a staff shortage. Photo credit: Mengshin Lin, Deseret News.

SALT LAKE CITY — The start of school is around the corner and some school districts are struggling with a staff shortage.

Salt Lake City School District is currently short bus drivers. Canyons School District said it also doesn’t have enough bus drivers, but it is short-staffed in other areas, like custodians and lunch workers as well. 

Staff shortage at Canyons School District

A spokesperson for the Canyons School District, Jeff Haney, said the problem is they’re not getting as many applicants as they once did. Haney said usually at this point in the summer, they have 20-30 applicants for bus drivers, but right now they have five.

The Canyons School District is offering a referral bonus for current employees and recently raised salaries for a lot of non-teaching positions. Haney said he hopes this will help them get more applicants.

They’re hiring bus drivers, custodians, and lunch workers. Haney said even if they’re not able to have a full staff, they’ll find a way to keep schools open.

“Well, it certainly is a struggle, but we make it work,” he said. “For example, last year, almost all of the office staff for our nutrition services department went to work in schools to prepare and serve food.”

Staff shortage at Salt Lake City School District

Ken Martinez, transportation manager for the Salt Lake City School District, said its bus driver shortage isn’t a new problem.

“This has been the trend for about the past six years,” Martinez said. “Six years ago, we were down a few bus drivers and each year it’s gotten progressively worse.”

He said the school district needs 12 drivers to have a full staff for the school year.

“We’ve actually been more fortunate than a lot of the school districts,” Martinez said. “A lot of school districts have had to double-up routes or start the routes exceptionally early.”

He said the problem isn’t finding qualified applicants, the district will train people. Martinez says the problem is finding applicants, period.

“I took a different approach, I started hiring at the end of the school year,” Martinez said. “Trying to hire and guarantee my drivers that I hired, I’d keep them busy during the summer with at least 20 hours in hopes of not having to do a mad rush of hiring in August just before school starts. And it seemed to help,” Martinez said.

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As the school year approaches, Utah schools are suffering a staff shortage