Framingham School Committee confirms district will be 20 bus drivers short to start school year

FRAMINGHAM, Mass — One of the state’s biggest school districts will be starting the school year short on bus drivers.

Framingham School officials have been warning about this for weeks and last night it was confirmed that not all kids in the city will be able to get bus service to start the school year.

During a virtual school committee meeting, district officials said that there are only 57 drivers hired at this point, that’s 20 fewer than needed to meet the city’s needs.

This means kids in kindergarten to sixth grade who live within 2 miles and many middle and high school students will be considered ineligible for bus service - but the city usually does bus them when possible.

The driver shortage comes just months after the district reached an agreement with the bussing company ‘North Reading Transportation’ to avoid a strike.

The new deal included pay raises, a 401k match plan, and some attendance bonuses.

Last night the school committee expressed frustration with the bus company’s lack of accountability.

“NRT Bus is successfully pursuing several recruitment efforts and has increased wages to hire more bus and van drivers to serve our communities, despite the ongoing national driver shortage,” a spokesperson for NRT Bus said. “As we continue to prepare for the upcoming school year, our hiring numbers are outpacing last year’s thanks to recruitment and training efforts, virtual hiring events, competitive wages, and hiring bonuses. We are fully staffed in several districts and remain in constant communication with school leadership to ensure students and families have reliable and safe transportation.”

NRT says that the driver shortage is significantly less than it was last year that they will continue to hire more drivers in the next 5 weeks leading up to the start of school.

Massachusetts largest school district is Boston and they are equipped with more than 700 drivers for the school year.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates as more information becomes available.

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