“We have started referring to them as school bus operators to recognize the job is more than just navigating the bus in traffic. Te job entails a wide range of duties and responsibilities that go beyond just driving the vehicle.” —Charlie Hood, NASDPTS

a state law. Some states require they report directly to state agency. In Florida, any school employee who suspects child abuse may report directly to the state agency.” Hood added that recognizing and reporting child abuse is now a

required part of the drivers’ training. Bean said her drivers attend a week of in-service classes at the beginning of the school year that includes all the technology used by the district, and then some. “Constant training is the only way to keep up with technology,” Bean said. “Now we have active shooter and counter-terrorism training. New hires must go through the entire set of in-service classes before they go out on a bus. You’ve got to think safety and security. With all the technolo- gy everyone is accountable for every step we take.” Because Arizona requires finger print cards on file for all school bus drivers, Bean learned two recent out-of-state hires had lied about their police records on their applications. Tey were dismissed immediately. “Te state made it real tough here and I’m glad they did,” she said. “We’re not delivering packages, we’re delivering little people.”

DOING MORE FOR LESS While the prevailing consensus is that, although their duties, re- sponsibilities and training in most cases are increasing, bus drivers are being required to do more with less pay. Tat is seen by many as one of the major reasons for the nationwide shortage of school bus drivers. “With the advent of new technology in school buses every year, digital videos, increased responsibility and student management, our bus operators are woefully underpaid,” said Creach. “A bus operator gets up very early in the morning. We’re talking about a 12-hour day and we’re compensating them for six. We have a hard time recruiting because the pay is not commensurate with the total amount of time and effort the driver has to put in as opposed to the private sector. “We’re still operating like we are back in the 60s or 70s. It is rec-

ognized as a profession in every aspect of the word, but the com- pensation does not rise to the level of what we ask them to do.” Creach said bus drivers in his district must pass a physical and a dexterity test. “If you’re wearing a cast, brace or ace bandages, we stand you down,” he said. “Teachers can teach in a wheelchair, but drivers can’t drive a bus in one. Te expectations and level of responsibility are so high it puts a lot of pressure on drivers because they have to be perfect every day.” Hood agreed, citing pay as one of the more important mo- tivators, but not the only one. “I agree that drivers should be

26 School Transportation News • MAY 2018

compensated in a way that is commensurate with the professional requirements of the position,” he added. “School districts and private companies need to compensate drivers adequately to be competitive. It’s well known that recruiting and retaining drivers is a widespread problem around the country and pay is a big part of it, not the only part, but a big part.” On March 9, 75 school bus drivers in Pinellas County, Florida called off sick, when the normal daily outage is 20 to 30. News reports indicated the sick-out was in protest of low wages. Calls to the district’s transportation department were not returned as of this writing. “I looked into it industry wide, and the pay is not keeping pace with the job’s responsibilities,” Bean added. “My drivers can’t work over 60 hours a week, even with a second job.” While Vincent Evans of Merced Union agreed that pay overall is not what it should be, he said it is not the main factor affecting recruitment. “Te job is not glamorous,” he added. “We’re asking someone to be a behaviorist, social worker, probation officer, nurse, mother, father, and friend. And we’re asking this person to play all these roles with sometimes 85 different personalities, and then we ask that same individual to drive that bus on the road with others that might be engaged with their personal technology and not paying attention. We ask the same folks to be TSA and FBI [approved]. Tese things do not sound fun.” Linda F. Bluth, Ed.D, a consultant with the Maryland State

Department of Education and a past president of NAPT, said the advancement in technology cannot replace school bus driver be- havior management and the responsibility for supervising students on the school bus. “Technology is an excellent tool to monitor bus behavior, record student behavior and improve driver training insight and skill development to boost appropriate behavior management,” Bluth said. “Today’s demands on the school bus driver require a combi- nation of up-to-date technology resources and exemplary behavior management training. Te importance of both should not be underestimated.” 

Busing on the Lookout (BOTL), a program of Truckers Against Trafficking, is spotlighting the crime of human trafficking and is engaging school bus drivers on how to report it effectively. BOTL told School Transportation News that their training materials are the first to be designed specifically for members of the bus industry and consist of a 30-minute video and an accompanying wallet-sized information card. Te materials are available free of charge to school districts, educational agencies, companies and public transit systems. View the video and training at

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