School bus driver shortage impacts Yakima's middle school athletes

YAKIMA Wash. -- Athletes looking to take down their rivals this season might not get their wish. The reason?

"What is comes down to is a lack of substitute bus drivers." Yakima School District Spokesperson Mary Beth Wright says there simply aren't enough drivers to take every athlete to other schools for games this year.

These after-school drivers -- known as "substitutes" -- are hired only after filling dayside positions. Getting students to and from school is the first priority.

"I'm disappointed that those kids aren't getting to play inter-school sports," said Brenda Brown, a concerned Yakima parent. "It's a very important part of their growing up life."

High school sports aren't impacted by this. Only middle school teams. And, some are playing.

Wright says one team for every sport, in every school, will still travel. But for sports with more than one team, not all children will. The void for those players will be filled with intramural sports and an inter-school championship at the end of the year.

That doesn't solve the bus driver shortage. What will happen next season? And the one after that?

Brenda Brown had one idea. "Maybe they need to promote it a little more. Maybe they could do something as an alternative, like the city bus system. I mean, maybe they need to find a different avenue that could benefit the kids."

For its part, the Yakima School District says it advertises the positions regularly. "It's an ongoing situation," said Wright.

One for which there seems to be no immediate solution. Small consolation for students who won't get to compete against other schools.