CCSD field trips now rare amid bus driver shortage, nonprofit leader says
UPDATE (Sept. 14, 2022, 4:17 p.m.): After the publishing of this story, Clark County School District’s Media Relations office reached out to FOX5. They said, “CCSD Transportation has buses and drivers available for a large portion of the school day, specifically from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m, to accommodate field trips.”
They added, “Transportation likely has more field trip availability this school year as the low community spread of COVID has reduced some of the restrictions previously in place. The 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. field trip window has been a consistent window for field trips for a number of years as the primary focus in the morning and afternoon hours is getting students to and from school.”
Original story: LAS VEGAS, Nev. (FOX5) - At the Clark County School District, you may notice your student is being offered fewer field trips this year-- if any at all. And there’s a reason for that.
That struggle for the nonprofits offering field trips is a direct impact of a topic we have heard so much about recently: the school bus driver shortage.
“The memories that are created on field trips, because it’s different, because it shakes up the school day,” said Mike Kamer of nonprofit Project Real, which offers experiential learning opportunities focused on law, as well as crime prevention.
He added, “You go somewhere and that memory forms of, ‘Oh that was different,’ so when there’s academic content on a field trip, that academic content sticks out more. It’s why at Project Real, when we take these kids to the courthouse. These kids self-report somewhat-to-significantly wanting to improve their behaviors as a direct result of the experience.”
Before the bus driver shortage, nonprofits and museums would pay for yellow school buses.
“Schools would book the yellow buses through the school transportation office, we would reimburse that cost. The cost for those buses was between $180 and $300 per bus,” said Kamer.
But with the bus driver shortage these days, everything has changed.
Project Real used to provide over 140 field trips each year, according to Kamer. Now, he says they’ll be lucky if they can afford to host 48 field trips this school year.
This, he said, is resulting in many CCSD schools not offering any field trips at all at the moment.
He said the reason is because yellow school buses are no longer an option for them.
“We don’t have access to those buses, the schools don’t have access to those buses for field trips anymore, which leaves the options of charter buses. Those start for a small group at $550 if you’re lucky, and they have the buses available and they can go as high as $1,000 for a trip of 90 students,” said Kamer.
The price for a charter is, in some cases, double if not triple what it would typically cost for a school bus.
“Where are the bus drivers?” said Kamer.
That is a question Nevada Superintendent of Public Instruction Jhone Ebert has been working to answer.
“I truly believe I became a math teacher because of my experience in museums, and so having that experience outside the classroom in a museum is huge,” said Kamer. “So you recognize that, and that’s why your main focus is this shortage. Our main focus is this shortage. Making sure that we have more adults on campus to support the learning environment.”
She is now also working with DETR to try and get job-seeking Nevadans to consider jobs like bus driving or teaching.
“We have a great partnership with workforce connections, to make sure that as people are coming back into the workforce retooling, that they actually are looking at education, that they can be a support professional,” said Ebert.
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