By Dillon Thomas

FORT COLLINS, Colo. (CBS4) – One if northern Colorado’s largest school districts, Poudre School District, says staff shortages in their transportation department and inside their schools are having negative impacts on students, staff and even parents. The shortage comes as most employers around the nation are having difficulties filling vacant positions.

“We were very fortunate to start the year with all teaching positions filled. That being said, we have struggled to fill other positions across the district,” said Madeline Noblett, Executive Director or Communications for PSD.

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The district is short on paraprofessionals, staff which help teachers and students throughout the school day. The district has nearly 30 openings at that position, meaning teachers are now being left to handle the workload on top of teaching large groups of students amid a pandemic.

“Without (paraprofessionals), that direct support doesn’t look quite the same, and it also means increase workload for teachers in the classroom,” Noblett told CBS4’s Dillon Thomas.

Matt Bryant, Executive Director of Operations for PSD, said the shortage in staff goes from the classroom to the cafeteria and even out onto the roads.

“It’s an industry-wide issue,” Bryant said.

PSD is short more than 40 bus drivers. The lack of applicants has forced the district to adjust how, and who, they transport.

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The district used to transport roughly 13,000 students to and from school. However, due to the shortage of drivers, routes have been cut. Only an estimated 7,500 students are now being transported through PSD transportation.

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The district prioritized transportation of those they are legally required to service. Some parents volunteered to withdraw their kids from transportation until more hires are made.

“It puts a lot of strain on families trying to find a way to transport their student to and from school,” Bryant said. “We have crowded buses now, because we are trying to get as many students safely on the bus that we can.”

Those who are qualified can receive bonuses for applying to some PSD jobs, specifically the bus driver openings. And, depending on license, drivers could be eligible for multiple bonuses.

Noblett encouraged those looking for work, or soon graduating, to consider applying for a job that will directly impact the future of thousands of young Coloradans.

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“These are people that are critical to our operations here in the district, working directly with students,” Noblett said.

Dillon Thomas