Due to a shortage in bus drivers, the Novi Community School District is reducing transportation service through the end of 2021.

Due to a shortage in bus drivers, the Novi Community School District is reducing transportation service through the end of 2021.

Photo by Brian Wells

Novi district to begin reducing bus schedule next week

By: Brian Wells | Novi Note | Published November 11, 2021


Starting Wednesday, Novi parents will have to find a different way to get their students to school one day a week.

In an email sent out Nov. 10, parents of Novi Community School District students were informed that bus service would be reduced one day per week due to a staffing shortage.

“We started the school year with the exact number of drivers that we needed for the routes that we had, and over the course of the first nine or 10 weeks of the school year we’ve seen the need to add a couple routes and we’ve had some driver illness,” Superintendent Steve Matthews said.

As a result, the district doesn’t have enough drivers to cover each route. So the district is reducing service for parents one day per week, which Matthews said is equal to about five fewer bus runs per day. Parents will be affected on the one day per week that their bus route is one of the five routes not running that day.

If parents can’t provide transportation to their students, Matthews said they should work with other parents to arrange carpooling.

“The reality is we’re trying to encourage parents to work together to carpool, to work in their neighborhoods and support one another,” Matthews said. “We know it’s a significant inconvenience to parents, but it’s more inconvenient on some level for parents when buses are either routinely late or don’t keep a consistent schedule.”

The new schedule will take effect Nov. 17 and will continue through the district’s December break, unless the district can’t hire enough drivers. Students who have specialized transportation plans in an individualized education program will still receive transportation, as the district is legally required to provide it.

“Our hope is by the December break we’ll have drivers in the pipeline and we’ll be able to restore service in January,” Matthews said. “There’s no guarantee, but that’s our goal.”

To attract more drivers, the district is launching a new hiring campaign, advertising with billboards along Interstate 275 and Interstate 96 and in radio and TV commercials. The district will provide drivers with training and help them obtain their commercial driver’s licenses.

The district has also increased drivers' wages from a range of $17.50 to $19.50 per hour to $18.60 to $21.41 per hour, Novi Community School District Marketing and Public Relations Specialist George Sipple said in an email. There is also a $500 referral bonus for current employees, and drivers who have a valid CDL upon hire will earn $500 after 90 days on the job. Drivers who are hired without a CDL will receive $300.

Are you a parent who’s been affected by the change in bus service? Call Staff Writer Brian Wells at (248) 291-7637.