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Amid bus driver shortage, St. Francis schools superintendent gets her license

Not unlike other school districts, St. Francis Area Schools is facing a bus driver shortage. To help out, Superintendent Beth Giese got her license.

ST FRANCIS, Minnesota — Both Wednesday and Thursday this week, St. Francis Area Schools had to call off one school bus route for the day. 

"There is nothing worse than making that call and saying, 'We can't come get your children today,'" Superintendent Beth Giese said. 

The nationwide bus driver shortage is also impacting St. Francis Area Schools' 60 routes. Giese said they are down at least 10-12 drivers. 

RELATED: 'Bus driver crisis': Union leaders, bus drivers speak out about conditions leading to nationwide shortage

"Since last year, we've just seen a decrease with our bus drivers in general," she said. 

Giese said when drivers weren't being used during the pandemic last year, they found other employment. Many of them did not come back. 

"I thought, this is something really small that I could do. So I went and got my bus license to help fix the problem," Giese said. 

Giese got her license Wednesday and will now be filling in as an emergency driver. She also helps as an educational assistant on the school buses. Her director of business services also plans to get his license. 

"For me, this is just what you do. I'm not the only one. There are superintendents, principals, teachers, support staff, everyone I know in education is stepping up to the plate. This is one very small example. I could give you hundreds of examples of people in education right now stepping up to the plate," Giese said. 

RELATED: Bus driver shortage impacting the first day for SPPS students

Giese posted a photo of herself outside of a DVS office on Facebook with the caption: "A very wise mentor once told me, never ask an employee to do anything you wouldn't do yourself. Guess who got her bus license!"

A very wise mentor once told me, never ask an employee to do anything you wouldn’t do yourself. Guess who got her bus license! 🚌💨

Posted by Supt Giese on Wednesday, September 22, 2021

"I think that it's really inspiring," said Melissa Johnson, route specialist for St. Francis Area Schools. 

Johnson said after people saw Giese's post, they started calling her office. Giese said the district has received seven calls so far and they have already hired one driver because of it. 

"It seems to have really kind of woken up the community to our needs and people are stepping up," Johnson said. 

Giese added, "I can't have kids that don't have a ride home or ride to school... If I can lead by example and we get 10 more people that want to get their license because of this, that's great. Maybe I'll never have to drive again and that would be great too." 

Those interested in applying, can find more information on the St. Francis Area Schools website. Salary is $18.39 per hour and Giese said they are also offering retention bonuses. 

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