ANCHORAGE, Alaska — Active duty members of the U.S. Air Force are set to help drive school buses for students at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in Anchorage as the school district works to address a shortage of drivers.

The Anchorage School District said the military members will drive students for 90 days, starting Thursday, Alaska Public Media reported.

The district was down 66 drivers. It has 25 new hires in training, and 17 others are expected to return to the district from other jobs by Sept. 19, said the district superintendent, Jharrett Bryantt. The district also was interviewing 21 additional candidates.

“We’re in arm’s reach of our goal of being fully staffed by October,” he said Friday.

Bryantt said having the airmen drive students on the base to school means the four drivers who currently staff routes on base can move to other routes in the district. The district has reinstated routes based on student needs and safety as new drivers have started.

The district has started a third-party audit of its transportation operations to avoid future, similar shortages, Bryantt said. That could lead to changes, such as adjusting school start times and combining routes, he said.

“I believe that there are systemic inefficiencies with ASD transportation,” he said, referring to the district. “We’re hoping to ensure that ASD is among the most efficient school systems in the country when it comes to busing.”

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