BRIDGEWATER, NJ - With a lack of bus drivers currently available to the district, staff is having to fill the holes to transport students.

The Bridgewater-Raritan board of education is looking to do something about this, and discussed the problem at a recent meeting.

Business administrator Peter Starrs said the bus contractors the district uses for a majority of its routes are having hiring issues, so his office has been out transporting kids for school trips.

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“Our office staff is doing a lot of driving for the school trips this season,” he said. “They have been out of the office transporting the kids.”

According to board member Barry Walker, the Somerset County Education Commission, for which he is the board of education representative, is currently discussing personnel and would like to have more bus drivers to match neighboring districts that are hiring more bus driving staff as well.

However, the contractors have been struggling to find people in the area with the credentials to operate a bus, a Commercial Drivers License, due to the lengthy application process.

“The state now takes six months to give a CDL and people can’t wait that long to get a job,” Starrs said.

Board member Jeffrey Brookner expressed concern about office staff transporting students rather than being able to do their jobs due to short staffing.

“Our staff that’s supposed to be manning phones are out driving students, that’s only a problem if an emergency happens and no ones there to handle it,” he said.

The board will continue to look for new bus drivers to fill the vacancies in the school district.