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'We're not happy' | South Washington County Schools cancel 12 bus routes ahead of school starting

Families were told about these cancelations on Aug. 31, six days before school was set to start.

COTTAGE GROVE, Minn — Most school districts have rebounded from last year's bus driver shortage, successfully getting kids to class during the first week of school.

But South Washington County schools are still struggling to get the bus drivers they need.  

School officials say on the first day of school, they had to cancel 12 routes, and they're not sure when those routes could resume.

The district sent a message to families letting them know that the routes would be canceled because of the ongoing bus driver shortage. The routes are a mix of morning and afternoon routes.

Families were told about these cancelations on Aug. 31, six days before school was set to start. The news is leaving many families scrambling to find ride accommodations for their kids.

Jessica Giles, whose son is headed to middle school, says he now has to carpool with a neighbor to make sure he gets to school in the morning.

"We live four miles [away]. You can't just expect us to drop everything we're doing and our jobs just to take our kids to school," said Giles.

Giles went on to say that the school hasn't provided alternative options to help kids get to school. She also says parents are taking to social media to try to secure rides for their kids.

We reached out to the district for an interview, but they said they weren't available. They did, however, send us this statement:

"Like most school districts and bus companies, we continue to see a shortage of bus drivers despite ongoing hiring efforts. Our mechanics, transportation office staff, and transportation administrators are filling in as drivers on a daily basis. Though we have a couple of candidates working through the training and hiring process, our critical need for drivers will be an issue for the foreseeable future."

The district is also inviting anyone interested in becoming a bus driver to apply. Pay starts at $20.40 an hour and increases to $22.90 an hour after 75 days on the job.

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