Updated at 9:15 a.m. Sept. 14, 2017.
Indian River School District says it is facing a critical shortage of bus drivers, a little more than a week into the start of the school year.
The district is 13 drivers short, according to an email from Indian River's transportation systems analyst Tyler Bryan. Multiple bus contracting agencies throughout the county provide the district with drivers.
Bryan said Thursday morning that transportation staff are trying to consolidate some of the routes and have school staff assist with quickly getting students off the buses so the bus drivers can go back out to pick up more kids.
And he said he doesn't anticipate students waiting much longer than they already do at their bus stops.
"The changes should not be drastic in time. It will probably be a five to 10 minute difference," Bryan said. "We're not trying to do anything that will majorily impact the students."
Superintendent Mark Steele says the district expected the shortage and is working to bring in more drivers and modify bus routes and schedules.
"A single run may have to make a double run, which means we may have to alter the times for some students leaving the school and arriving to school so these buses can make the double routes in order to transport these kids," Steele said.
Parents will be notified if the district makes changes to children's pick-up and drop-off times, he said.
Dawn Rexrode has a middle school-aged and high school-aged daughter in the district. She said while her high shool-aged daughter said the driver shortage hasn't seemed to affect her, her daughter in middle school said her bus is overcrowded, with some of the students being packed in three to a seat.
"That's a little concerning because that's a lot of children on one bus," Rexrode said.
She says her daughter in high school has to be at her bus stop around 6:30 a.m. while her daughter in middle school has to be ready to leave between 7-7:15 a.m, so a shift in their schedules would worry her a little.
"I know it's just harder for the kids to get up earlier," she said.
School districts and bus contractors have cited low pay as a reason for high turnover among bus drivers.
The district has five replacement drivers in the testing phase and four in the process of getting road permits, Bryan said.
People interested in becoming a bus driver for the district can contact the IRSD transportation office at (302)-436-1000 or firstname.lastname@example.org.