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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

More bus drivers ease transportation crunch at Spokane schools

Students board Durham School services buses in this photo from 2018. Spokane Public Schools officials said problems with delayed buses are improving because Durham, the company that runs the district’s buses, has hired bus drivers.  (CHRISTOPHER ANDERSON)

The worst appears to be over in the battle to get Spokane Public Schools students to class on time.

During Wednesday’s school board meeting, district staff said the company that provides its busing, Durham School Services, now has 98 drivers for Spokane.

That’s well above the 85 drivers Durham had when the school year began seven weeks ago.

More are on the way, said Shawn Jordan, the district’s chief operations officer.

“There are 20 that are in the pipeline, six that are at the last stage of that training and will be able to add to that 98,” said Shawn Jordan, director of secondary schools at SPS. “Then another five that are in the middle and 10 that are just starting the process for training.”

“This will take us well over where we were a year ago,” Jordan told board members.

Earlier this week, the district was able to cease the practice of having administrative staff pick up students in vans.

“That was unprecedented, and I’m proud of all of our staff for taking that on,” Superintendent Adam Swinyard said. “We’re really proud that we took on the extra work.”

Only a few weeks ago, families were told that some routes would be up to two hours late because of a shortage of drivers. On other occasions, the bus didn’t show up at all.

Some routes are still running late; it’s unclear when all be back to normal.

Last month, the district sent letters to families to prepare for the possibility that certain routes will be up to two hours late through the end of October.

That time frame was a worst-case scenario, Swinyard said, “because we don’t want families to get their hopes up.”