GREECE, N.Y. (WROC) — As students and staff begin a new school year, bus drivers have remained a critical need across the country and in our region.

For Greece Central Schools, transportation director David Richardson says recruitment efforts this summer have paid off.

“All of our transportation runs are covered for tomorrow and in the immediate to near future,” Richardson said. “We did lose a few staff members as they decided not to return from summer vacation, but we’ve also been able to bring new staff on board.”

Greece has hired around 25 drivers and is still seeking more. Richardson says the district is on par with its status last year and says the situation has called for all hands on deck.

“Our office staff are driving at a moment’s notice. I have my CDL, where I can go out and pick up students at a moment’s notice. Our garage team is available at a moment’s notice,” Richardson said.

A spokesperson for Fairport Central Schools says they’re in the process of training new drivers as well, and are still in need of up to 10 more to eliminate the need for contracted employees.

With both districts welcoming students back Wednesday, Richardson says he expects the school transportation industry will continue to fluctuate.

“I wish I had the crystal ball. Our driver situation is good right now, but I can’t predict what will happen in a month from now between sicknesses, COVID, surgeries, retirements. We could lose a bunch of people. We also could gain people as well,” Richardson said.

For most school districts, we’re told the hiring process will be ongoing throughout the school year as drivers may step down more frequently compared to other careers.