The Student News Site of Marshfield High School

The Marshfield Times

The Student News Site of Marshfield High School

The Marshfield Times

The Student News Site of Marshfield High School

The Marshfield Times

Bus driver shortages impacting student life

Late buses are causing students to not have enough time for their homework after school, ending in slipping grades. In short, the number of bus drivers has decreased with First Student Transportation, the bus company servicing Coos Bay School District. This means the number of late buses has increased, due to extended routes. And the bus shortage isn’t unique to First Student Transportation, or CBSD. There has been a national bus driver shortage, including throughout Oregon, since the pandemic. 

“School districts nationwide and around Oregon continue to struggle with shortages of bus drivers,” said First Student Transportation Manager Becki Mascarenas. “This has happened before to a certain extent, but got worse after 2020.”

The main problem: time to obtain a Commercial Driver’s License, low pay, and irregular hours. Bus drivers need to have the ability to work with all ages of kids. Those who qualify to obtain a CDL are often tempted by higher paying job offers, signing bonuses for commercial truck drivers, and more regular hours. Others who would be willing to drive a school bus simply don’t qualify for a CDL, which requires certain vision standards and a medical exam.  

“I think it’s a national issue, across Oregon at least,” said Destinations Principal Kayla Crook, who has been with CBSD for many years.

In the past, Crook has been assistant principal in CBSD elementary schools, and she dealt with kindergarteners who were riding the bus system for over an hour each day. 

To try and combat the shortage, school bell schedules and times for drop-off and pick-up were changed this year to hopefully ease some stress on the bus company. Instead of the first bell at 7:55 a.m., the first bell at Marshfield High School rings at 8:10 a.m. this year.

 “School start times were changed and a lot of the change at the start of school was to clean up the bussing because students would have to wait a long time to get picked up and dropped off,” said Todd Tardie, MHS security officer.

So far, the change in start times has not appeared to ease the issue much. It is still early in the school year and everyone is hopeful that it will improve in the weeks to come. Part of the issue is the buses start at the junior high school to pick up the students there and then head up to the high school to pick up those students. 

“I’m hoping that the process becomes smoother as everyone gets used to it,” said Tardie.

Right now, there are still a limited number of bus drivers. Each bus then has to take on additional stops, which would normally be part of a separate route. 

“There’s not [many] drivers [most] of the time,” said current bus driver Ralph Adams.

According to Mascarenas, part of the issue is finding people who can pass the screenings, as well as who are drug-free, and have the required three years of driving experience. When bus drivers are routinely pulled from regular routes to drive for field trips or athletic events, that also means that those drivers left behind have to juggle the same routes with less people behind the wheel.

For students, more time on the bus means less time at home, less time for homework, and less time for household chores and responsibilities.

“My bus has been late about three out of the five school days for pickup,” said MHS student Tyler Rupkalvis. 

On top of that he has waited even longer due to bus changes that happen nearly every day. Bus changes also increase the likelihood of missing a bus or sitting down on the wrong bus for the day.

”I missed the bus once and missed something important,” student Jay Julian stated.

Some students are getting home as late as 4:40-5:00. This causes about half an hour or more of missed time that could be used for homework/projects, that could put grades in jeopardy. Even if a student is able to complete homework, after it’s finished they might not get enough sleep for school. This can put their school day, mental health and social health at risk. 


One way to alleviate some of the need for bus drivers is to ask coaches and teachers to drive their teams to special events; for some, this is not a new concept. First Student helps train district coaches and teachers.

“I think it would be a good thing if teachers and coaches could drive the buses because they have relationships with the students,” said Tardie, “instead of a stranger that doesn’t have that connection with them.”

MHS club advisers and coaches have recently been encouraged to get their type 15 certificate so they are certified to drive the mini-buses. In return, teachers and coaches will get paid for their time and work. Those who have been driving their teams to competitions for years are excited about the possibility of now getting paid for their extra work. 

Others are not thrilled. Acquiring a CDL requires a required skills test, vision test, and physical examination. This can take time, which not every teacher has. In addition, not every teacher wants to drive a bus, mini or otherwise. Teachers already work 40, 50, and sometimes 60 hours per week. Now, if available and willing, they are being asked to drive buses. This means regulating student behavior on the bus and dealing with crazy drivers on the road. It also equates to less time for grading and other teaching responsibilities that fall outside of the normal school day. The idea is a bleak one for teachers already taking on a full load.

One solution to helping with bussing is to reduce routes and extracurricular trips. These have been completely cut in some districts. First Student is funneling energy into recruitment, training, and hiring qualified drivers to help transport students. But in the meantime, students are suffering. 

Crook applauds First Student for their efforts in keeping the students of CBSD safe and trying to work within their parameters.

“First Student is doing the best they can with the drivers they have,” said Crook. “It’s a hard situation to be in. We have to have people apply in order to be hired.”

Anyone over 21 years old who meets the qualifications to drive a bus is encouraged to contact Becki Mascarenas at first student at 541-888-9131 or 

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