Sometimes solving a problem takes out-of-the-box thinking, and a recent solution by two Pewaukee School District employees likely fits that bill.
Pewaukee High School principal Brian Sniff and athletic director Jeff Behrens decided to get their commercial driver’s licenses to enable them to work as backup bus drivers at a time when bus driver shortages are affecting the district.
Both decided to go that extra mile after seeing the effect of those shortages on away athletic events last spring.
Most of the time, students had to leave school early and go to the other school and sit in the cafeteria to get homework done or hang out until their competition started, according to Sniff.
“The challenge with that is we had kids missing school as a result of it because they were having to leave much earlier than they were supposed to. We had teachers missing school because they’re coaching these sports. So we have to find coverage for the last period of the day usually, if not a little bit more. It was just having a tremendous impact on the learning environment with kids and coaches leaving early,” said Sniff.
Both Sniff and Behrens even went as far as to drive students in large passenger vans to away games, but only so many students could fit in them.
A better solution was needed.
The two discussed the idea of getting commercial driver’s licenses so they could help out if regular drivers weren’t available. The licenses would allow them to drive full-size school buses, accommodating more athletes.
“In order to keep those games and activities for kids available after school, we decided to go ahead and get our CDLs so we can make sure that happens,” Behrens said.
For Sniff, the decision made sense, since his son participates in track and soccer.
“I’m going (to his games) anyway. I could just drive the team, and then that helps with keeping kids in school, keeping them in their classes and keeping the teachers there and being able to prioritize academics and make that happen, Sniff said.
Go Riteway, the bus company serving the district, has helped Sniff and Behrens by providing driving lessons.
“I deeply appreciate (Go) Riteway’s accommodations; their partnership in this between the school district and the bus company has been really impressive. The people there are incredibly kind, and our instructor has been amazing,” said Sniff.
Behrens said the CDL process has shown him that there are ways to think outside the box to help preserve opportunities for students.
“It might take a little bit of effort, it might take a little bit of time, but there are things we can do to help solve problems,” said Behrens.
Sniff said Go Riteway is also still looking for drivers.
“They have just enough staff to do the afternoon and morning routes, but to be able to do charters and to be able to do the athletic events and field trips and these other things, they need additional drivers,” Sniff said.
For more information, visit goriteway.com/careers/.