Despite being short-staffed, Sitka’s school buses are covering their routes. The larger headaches for getting kids to school on time (for bus drivers and parents) are construction delays along Sawmill Creek Road. (KCAW/Woolsey)

School buses are running in Sitka as usual, although a few more drivers would help.

Sitka Schools superintendent Frank Hauser reports that the driver shortages plaguing Southcentral schools – which have forced Anchorage to rely on active-duty military personnel to take shifts behind the wheel – are not as serious an issue in Sitka.

Road construction, however, has been the bigger challenge.

“We have had some delays due to the construction on Sawmill Creek Road,” Hauser told KCAW, “but we’ve been working with the contractor to minimize the impact on that. But everything’s running normally. We’re lucky there compared to other other districts across the state.”

School buses in Sitka have been seen with signs in their windows advertising for drivers. Hauser says the bus company is trying to supplement its staffing, for all the driving that’s needed during the course of the year.

“In other districts that I’ve worked in, there’s been need for sub bus drivers,” he said. “We have substitutes for schools, just in case somebody’s sick. And so it’s always nice to have substitute bus drivers to in case there’s a field trip or something else that comes up too. I think that’s an important part of the process as well.”

Sitka’s school bus service is provided by Sitka Tours. Owner Trudy Prewitt confirms that her drivers are covering all the routes, but she is short-staffed, and traffic at the roundabout has been horrendous. She says, “We ask for patience, we ask for understanding. We’re doing our best to get all kids to school.”