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Northern Michigan schools start year with short staff

Ivan Aleksic

As the school year begins, several districts have not been able to fill all their staff positions, like cooks, bus drivers and special education teachers.

Steve Scoville is the superintendent of Farwell Public Schools. He said his district increased the wages for bus drivers, but that it wasn’t enough to fill the void.

"We did reduce a bus route to eliminate one position and did so as a result of really staffing. So our buses are a little more crowded than we'd like to but we just weren't able to find enough drivers," said Scoville.

Scoville says additions to state requirements for bus drivers may also be part of the reason for the driver shortage.

Detour Area Schools in the upper peninsula also told WCMU they have experienced similar challenges to hire a full staff to start the year. Superintendent Robert Vaught said he’s having trouble hiring kitchen staff. Vaught added he’s been able to retain teachers.

"I have to replace two cooks," said Vaught. "One on Drummond Island one on Detour. Bus drivers are always a shortage. I need to hire a bus driver on Drummond Island, paraprofessional positions. I've got a couple of those open as well."

Drummond Island Elementary in the eastern upper peninsula is one of the only schools in the state that uses a ferry to transport students to school via bus.

Rick joined WCMU as a general assignment reporter in March 2022.