The biggest concerns for school staff in 2022
Written by HopSkipDrive
As part of this year’s State of School Transportation survey, we wanted to find out about school transportation and other school staff concerns in 2022. We asked survey respondents to tell us: “What keeps you up at night?”
The answers we got helped us gain valuable insight into the issues that are top of mind for school administrators and transportation staff today.
Responses to this question — which are presented in our comprehensive State of School Transportation 2022 Report — varied from concerns about school funding to questions about how to make up for the significant learning loss students experienced during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Below, we’ve highlighted a few of the leading concerns of school staff today.
Staffing, funding and personnel issues
Jacqueline Ramos, an administrative secretary, had a common school staff concern. What keeps her — and so many other respondents — up at night? “Staff coverage,” she said.
This response is not surprising. After all, the bus driver shortage remains one of our survey respondents’ most significant pain points. But the majority of survey respondents (94.2%) reported widespread school staffing shortages in numerous areas — not just transportation.
Barrera Evans Gagnon, who works in administration, listed “personnel issues” as a top concern. This was echoed by John French, a superintendent, who chimed in by saying: “What keeps me up at night is how to keep schools open and operating during the pandemic and amid staffing shortages.”
Numerous survey respondents also expressed apprehension related to school funding — especially once cash from the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund (ESSER) dries up.
On-the-job pressure and stress
“Stress at work” is cited as the thing that is keeping one anonymous respondent up at night. And that respondent certainly isn’t alone in feeling the pressure. This year’s survey responses highlighted just how challenging juggling logistics for student transportation has become.
Bessiem McNally, who works as a school staff member, related: “My job is too stressful and I need help, but management doesn’t see it that way.”
Another anonymous respondent reported feelings of overwhelm caused by “current transportation program failures.”
Student attendance, chronic absenteeism and morale
Many survey respondents, of course, mentioned having major worries about student success and well-being.
Concerns related to student attendance, chronic absenteeism and enrollment came up often in survey responses. One anonymous school counselor, for example, reported worrying frequently about “students coming to school and graduating.”
Zachary Armstrong, a dean of students, said a lack of “student enthusiasm” or student burnout keeps him up at night. And Jeremy Holland, a counselor, had the same response.
Rosheda Osheda, who works as administrative staff, agreed. She listed “children’s happiness index at school” as her top worry.
Expanded walk boundaries
A number of survey respondents articulated their worries about the impact on students of expanding walk zones.
In response to the mounting challenges facing school transportation today, some schools have expanded their walk boundaries to reduce bus routes, staffing needs and related costs.
Benito Brice Jerod, who works as logistics personnel, stated that the “expanded pedestrian boundary” is keeping him up at night. Expanding these zones is not without risks, and the potential fallout is stressing out many survey respondents.
Ongoing issues related to COVID
Even though most schools have returned to in-person learning, concerns about the coronavirus pandemic remain. In fact, several survey respondents mentioned that the virus is what keeps them up at night.
Patty Bunch Breech, a logistics manager, mentioned that “COVID-19 related issues” are a major worry.
And it’s quite easy to understand why. After all, the coronavirus has altered bell schedules, made it harder to recruit retirees to drive school buses, and changed everything from daily operating procedures to annual budgets.
Interested in learning more about what’s happening in school transportation today? Read our State of School Transportation 2022 Report in full to learn more about what’s going well — and what the biggest pain points are — for today’s school transportation and administration staff.