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Superintendent doubles as a school bus driver because school doesn’t have enough bus drivers
When Dr. Burmeister stepped up to the plate it also encouraged other faculty members like principals, teachers and staff to do the same.
Cherie Gozon
09.20.22

School bus driver shortage

The pandemic has affected a lot of industries, including the education sector. For the past couple of years, the education and transportation departments have faced a severe shortage of bus drivers. This is all due to the pandemic that hit worldwide in late 2019. People around the world were affected gravely, and so was our country.

YouTube Screenshot - 9News
Source:
YouTube Screenshot - 9News

During the pandemic, schools were closed, and bus companies had no means of income. What used to be a $173 million profit has gone to zero. Even the federal aid given to bus companies wasn’t enough. Hence, they had no choice but to lay off their drivers.

YouTube Screenshot - 9News
Source:
YouTube Screenshot - 9News
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On the other hand, the drivers had to move on and look for other means of income. They applied to other jobs in and out of the transport industry.

YouTube Screenshot - 9News
Source:
YouTube Screenshot - 9News

Now that the schools have re-opened, it has become challenging to re-hire them. This caused a nationwide shortage. Others stepped in to fill the gap, even if it would never be enough. Massachusetts deployed guardsmen, while Texas asked teachers and coaches to drive the bus before school.

Part-time bus driver. Full-time district superintendent.

In Kersey, Colorado, the man who stepped up was their school district superintendent.

YouTube Screenshot - 9News
Source:
YouTube Screenshot - 9News

Dr. Jeremy Burmeister is Platte Valley RE-7 School District Superintendent. But before he reports to work, he drives the school bus to send the children to school. Of course, you’ll find him in his coat and tie office attire – something unique for a bus driver.

He starts his day with the usual safety checks and picks up the students.

Answer to bus driver shortage

Dr. Burmeister wanted to do this for two reasons, and the severe nationwide shortage was one of them. As district superintendent, he found the need to step up and fill in the gap. This also encouraged other school principals, teachers, and staff to do the same.

YouTube Screenshot - 9News
Source:
YouTube Screenshot - 9News

“I think it’s important for me, in my position – right, wrong, or indifferent – to lead by example,” he told 9News.

A different purpose

His second reason was rather more heartwarming.

“I do enjoy it. It gives me an opportunity to connect with kids,” he said. And it shows how he treats the students inside the bus.

YouTube Screenshot - 9News
Source:
YouTube Screenshot - 9News

He greets the kids as they board the bus. And as he drops them off, he tells them to have a good day and do well in school.

Reviews from students

Some students find it weird to have their superintendent drive the bus.
But they also said it was cool. They loved how he was polite every morning and talked to them about school; it was nice of him to do so. That makes up for his driving which they said was “just okay.” He admitted that’s a fair enough review, anyway.

YouTube Screenshot - 9News
Source:
YouTube Screenshot - 9News

Dr. Burmeister doesn’t do this every day, only when his schedule permits. But he admitted that whenever he has the time and when he gets to be a bus driver, he considers it the best part of his day. He sees this as an opportunity to also get to know the kids and hear their stories about school, something that might be useful in his job as district superintendent.

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By Cherie Gozon
hi@sbly.com
Cherie Gozon is a contributor at SBLY Media.
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