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'We’re at a point where it’s critical': Moorhead bus driver shortage felt in the sports world

Moorhead Athletic Director Dean Haugo comments on the shortage's impact on sports, district.

MoorheadBusFILE.jpg
A sign recruiting bus drivers is attached to a bus outside Moorhead High School in this file photo.
Steve Elwell/WDAY News
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MOORHEAD — While the issue of bus driver shortages in school districts isn’t necessarily new to Moorhead, the impact of the current shortage has spread wide to the point where it has put a strain on the Spuds’ sporting schedules.

Wednesday night, the Moorhead Spuds Twitter account made a post concerning the possible cancellation of athletic events due to the driver shortage. The one to type and send out the post was Moorhead Athletic Director Dean Haugo.

“What really drove the tweet was this was the first time where I was 48 hours away from a game with zero options within 150 miles,” Haugo said. “And that was concerning. And it was for (Friday) where we only had one road game.

“Part of my motivation with the tweet was really simple, just trying to spur a conversation, spur some interest and maybe turn over a stone where (we hadn’t). It was really specific and focused on those folks that are already attending our events — the parents and grandparents, those kind of folks — and maybe one of them has an interest in driving a bus and doesn’t realize how much of a need it is.”

On Thursday, Moorhead school officials met to discuss the shortage issue on every level, not just how it has impacted sports.

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“We’re at a point where it’s critical," Haugo said. "We are running into situations where we are having to get really creative with the bussing side. That’s not just on the sports side, that’s across the board. (School officials) met and talked (Thursday) just trying to work on transportation in general through the school day to get kids to and from school. It just happened, this week, it really affected the world that I am in.”

Though the conflicts for the immediate future concerning transportation to sporting events have been fixed, Haugo is already planning to look ahead to alleviate any possible issues in the months ahead.

“Our planning is lengthy and our thoughts are more than they’ve ever been with regards to (transportation),” he said. “I will be spending the next few weeks looking ahead through the winter because the winter is a really scary time because, with winter sports, there’s a lot of games, a lot of contests, a lot of travel and a lot of days where we have five or six buses on the road.

“So, we're going to look and evaluate every schedule and try to find spots where we can thin out a day. When we have three or four months to make adjustments it’s certainly a lot easier than if we have one or two days.”

For those interested in driving a bus, Haugo added, the training is all provided.

“Our school district’s transportation department is prepared to train people to drive buses,” he said. “They are fully, fully, prepared and excited for people to walk in through the door that wants to drive. We’re not going to send anyone out the door and say, ‘Go get the training on your own and come back.’ Our district has a game plan, they have a training model and they will get people trained to drive the buses.“

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