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St. Louis Public Schools see successful first day despite bus driver shortage

Thousands of St. Louis students made it through their first day of school Monday but not without some challenges.

ST. LOUIS — The St. Louis Public School District had eight schools that did not have bus service on the first day of school due to a shortage of drivers, but many students experienced a good first day of class.

Principal of Central Visual and Performing Arts High School Dr. Kacy Shahid said despite not having bus service Monday, about 90% of kids made it to school and about 50 students were able to take public transportation through free passes provided by the district. 

“And out of that 90%, most of them were drop-offs and were here. So although it was an inconvenience for all of us, I believe our families had a good attitude about it. We tried to keep the lines of communication open,” Dr. Shahid said.

St. Louis Mayor Tishaura Jones visited with Central and Collegiate high school students to hear about the issues they're concerned about.

“I asked them, 'If you had a magic wand, what would you do with it?' And they had some really great responses,” Jones said.

One of them asked for help getting to school.

“I would use my magic wand to create more bus drivers,” the student said.

Mayor Jones announced they will be starting the Mayor's Youth Cabinet made up of students to help tackle issues in the city and at school just like the one they dealt with Monday.

“I just want to make sure that our babies are safe. And part of that safety is finding more bus drivers to get our children to and from school safely. So if anybody is watching, even if you don't have a CDL, but you're interested in being a bus driver, come on out and we will help train you to get a CDL,” Jones said.

George Sells with St. Louis Public Schools said the schools that did have bus service dealt with some delays and the eight schools without buses should only be dealing with this for two weeks.

“So you've got about 35 routes that aren't covered, you got 39 drivers that are going to be coming through. Then beyond that, we've got another 69 drivers that are almost done with their training, get those through the testing and now you're getting in a place where you've got a little bit more of a comfort zone, you've got a little bit more backup and that's going to do nothing but make the bus and service more dependable,” Sells said.

Sells said the district is also still dealing with flooding aftermath and repairs but they’re coming along and all buildings were open.

RELATED: Rain damages 35 SLPS schools

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