Out-of-District Students Facing Results of a Bus Driver Shortage


A few of the many busses that pull through the Nonnewaug bus loop daily. Outside of Region 14, buses from Seymour, Oxford, Naugatuck, Watertown, Bethel, New Milford, Region 5, Region 16, and Region 15 arrive daily to drop off Ag students.

Madelynn Orosz, Reporter

WOODBURY — Most students hang out with friends in the hallway or seek help from a teacher in the morning before the bell rings for class, but for many out-of-district students, the bus comes too late to even make it to class on time. 

Late-arriving buses impacts these out-of-district students in three key ways: socially, academically and productively. 

Social Component

Nonnewaug is a unique school where students come from many different towns, and with that, friendships are important. Due to the distance of some students, school is the only time of day they can see their friends, specifically during passing time, lunch and before the bell rings. 

With buses coming late, students can’t socialize with their friends or visit any teachers they might need to before instruction starts. 

Vicky Koether, a sophomore from Seymour, expressed her frustration.

“I don’t get to see some of my friends since I don’t have classes with them, and it would be nice to catch up before class starts,” Koether said. 

Productive Relevance 

Students bring extra items to school, including instruments, art folders, boots and sports equipment. This means they need to take extra time to make sure their items are secure where they belong. 

With buses being late, students are faced with two options: carrying around their items and risking them being damaged or accidentally hurting someone, or being even later to class. 

Chloe Weaver, a freshman from Oxford, enjoys coming to the school very early for the practicality of it.

“I use my time to talk to my friends and especially during volleyball when I had time to go down to the locker room and make sure my volleyball bag was safe in my locker,” Weaver said. 

Academic Impact

Another part of the morning that gets interrupted with the late bus arrivals is with the first period classes themselves. Many teachers are all too familiar with the “please excuse students from [insert town here] — the bus was late” emails. 

With out-of-district students making up the majority of Nonnewaug’s agriscience program, these students are impacted the most when buses are late. 

“Depending on the class I have in the first period, being late messes with what we are doing, especially in culinary and vet where it is very hands-on,” Koether stated.

Junior Jacob Wells of Middlebury reflected on his time on the bus before obtaining his driver’s license.

“My bus would come right when the bell rang and I wasn’t able to seek out help from teachers or set up a time to in person due to me having to rush to class,” Wells said. “Now that I can drive, I am able to seek out help from teachers beforehand or let them know of anything going on.”

Many teachers agree that it is frustrating when they have part of their class missing due to a variety of factors. 

However, vet science teacher Michael Lavoie said he makes sure to fill in students on what they missed before their bus arrived.

“If students were late, they would be filled in on what is going on when they arrive, but I haven’t had too much of an issue with buses this year in my classes,” Lavoie said.

Principal Pam Sordi, who greets all students each morning at the front doors, sees all buses arrive in the morning and has come up with a pattern.

“Weather, bus driver absences, or buses in repair can affect bus travel to Nonnewaug daily,” Sordi said.

These factors are out of students’ control, and teachers are mostly understanding and work to catch up students. But some students still feel lost on what’s going on when they arrive late. 

38 out-of-district students representing nine different school districts and 12 towns responded to a survey regarding bus times. Of those, 65.8% said their buses arrive late. Commonly, buses are 5-10 minutes late, and this is usually due to drivers finding out their additional assignments they have to cover due to the lack of bus drivers.


It is difficult to come up with a solution to a problem that impacts different districts daily — some more than others. 

Some towns like Watertown send three buses to Nonnewaug and have flexibility, but towns like Seymour can’t send a bus when its driver is sick, and students have to find their own ride. 

On the other hand, towns like Oxford and Naugatuck have to be at the school early so their bus drivers can get back to their towns and make their next routes.

The bus drivers who have continued to work throughout the driver shortage have been under more pressure. 

“It is very difficult for drivers these days,” said Andy Hall, driver of Seymour’s bus to Nonnewaug. “They are having to cover more routes for missing drivers. They are all under a lot of stress and pressure to get kids to their schools safely.”

The only solution to the busing problem seems to be understanding with the bus companies and being respectful to the bus drivers so they continue to come to work. Since the COVID-19 pandemic started, many bus drivers have quit for a variety of reasons and didn’t return to work once schools reopened.