SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – Springfield Public Schools is experiencing a shortage of crossing guards and bus drivers ahead of the 2021-2022 school year.
The school district is raising pay and adding incentives to encourage people to apply.
Pay is going up from $11/hour to $14.20/hour and includes paid training.
Dale Danielson, a crossing guard, says that the pay raise may work. “Well, the kids are the most important thing. It is nice, but money is always appreciated. In other words, you offer people some money, and they will take it.”
Mandy Buettgen-Quinn, Traffic Safety Specialist for the City of Springfield, says that COVID-19 and the demands of the job can make it hard to find crossing guards.
“We are finding that between covid and this being a job that is outdoors rain or shine, that it can be difficult to recruit crossing guards,” Buettgen-Quinn says.
The district has seen staff shortages before but says they may not handle it the way they have in the past.
“We would send a police officer out there or somebody else. Right now, the police department is also understaffed, so we are in a pinch, and we really hope that the community will help out to make sure those kids are safe,” Buettgen-Quinn says.
The transportation Center is also in need of at least 30 bus drivers.
John Mulford, Deputy Superintendent of Operations for Springfield Public Schools, says that he is optimistic the district will find a way to make the system work for families, but making it work may take some “shifting.”
“Driving a school bus is a lot of responsibility. not only are you responsible for the safety of the kids, but then the managing of those behaviors while they are en route to school. So you add that to the limited wages schools can often provide, and it becomes a challenge,” says Mulford.
The district is raising pay from $14/hour to $17/hour with a $4000 sign-on bonus.
Regardless of staffing, the city and district assure parents that no little ones will be without a way to school.
“Any locations where there has been a crossing guard, we will make sure that somebody will be at that location,” Buettgen-Quinn says.