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Four Local School Districts Teaming Up To Bus Students

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Sonora, CA — Citing that there is a national bus driver shortage, four Tuolumne County school districts are looking to pool resources to ensure daily transportation needs are met for students.

For several years, the county’s school districts have encountered challenges like route cancelations due to driver absences, and difficulties arranging transportation for field trips and extra-curricular activities.

In response, Sonora High School, Sonora Elementary, Curtis Creek Elementary, and Jamestown Elementary are developing a shared services transportation agreement. It is anticipated to be implemented next school year with a goal of streamlining operational efficiency, optimizing driver recruitment, and achieving superior fleet utilization.

Sonora High Superintendent Ed Pelfrey says, “While each district prides itself on its independence, we have a strong history of coming together to address common challenges. From pooling resources for special education services and insurance to joint contracts for propane and organizing elementary athletics, our collaborative efforts have consistently enhanced operational efficiency and student services.”

The districts note that the new model should also mean less time spent on buses by students.

To make it work, Sonora Elementary, Curtis Creek and Jamestown will all start class at 8 am next year and Sonora High will start 30 minutes later at 8:30 am. The staggered start and end times will keep high school and elementary students on different buses.

Sonora Elementary Superintendent Cheryl Griffiths adds, “This proposed plan represents a strategic response to the bus driver shortage while reaffirming our dedication to provide reliable transportation for our students.”

The plan is pending the outcome of negotiations with each district’s labor partners.