Unable to find a new driver, Lagunitas School cancels bus service

08/24/2017

Students began the year at Lagunitas School this week without the option of riding the bus. It’s the first year the district has suspended bus services indefinitely, a decision that could affect up to 45 students at a school of 250. Superintendent John Carroll said the district had no choice: there were no applicants for the vacant bus driver position. Longtime driver and teaching assistant Mark Weiss retired last year after nearly a decade of driving. “The simple truth is that we have been advertising since April and have not received any applicants,” Mr. Carroll said. The district had hoped to recruit an employee from within, but Mr. Carroll said the “daunting process” of becoming a licensed school bus driver may have been a deterrent. He added that the yellow bus, which costs about $30,000 a year to operate and is over 20 years old, is also in need of substantial maintenance. Katherine Sanford, a middle school social studies teacher and mother of two students, sees the change as an opportunity to both foster independence and encourage carpooling. “I’ve already seen emails go around for carpooling,” though it could be challenging for parents of incoming kindergarten students who don’t have a network, she said. Ms. Sanford’s children, an eighth grader and a sixth grader, will be biking to school from their Woodacre home. Meanwhile, Mr. Carroll said the district is not giving up the effort to find a driver and Mr. Weiss is enjoying his retirement. He just returned from viewing the eclipse and will be off to Mexico and Italy later this year. He said he appreciated the sense of responsibility that came with the gig and came to know many of the students. “I always liked kids who sang,” he said. “One of the things I’d do is play music for them… from old Beatles and the Beach Boys.” The part-time position brings a salary of nearly $20 an hour; anyone interested can contact Mr. Carroll at jcarroll@lagunitas.org