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return from the conference, and an- other special needs van driver position that will also be filled due to retirement of a driver,” he shared. “I have internal candidates [substitute drivers] who will be hired to fill those vacancies.” Sharon L. Conley, who is a trans-

portation supervisor at Northwest Local Schools in McDermott and the south region director of the Ohio Association for Pupil Transportation, said her district is in a good situation with its drivers. “While I would like to have additional substitute bus driv- ers as a cushion, all of my routes are currently filled,” she added. “However, a couple of drivers calling off certainly pose a challenge.” While she currently has several

drivers in training, Conley said she remains “optimistic” for the remainder of the current school year and into the 2020-2021 school year. Elsewhere in Ohio, the story is sim-

ilar. “We are very fortunate to not have a shortage this year,” said Jay Price, the transportation supervisor at Mohawk Local Schools in Sycamore. “What has helped our district with getting drivers is recruiting current employees from the school.” Two recent drivers he trained drive to the same school their children attend. The morning route and afternoon route are each one hour and 15 minutes long, and then they log seven hours at the school as classroom aides. “Both drivers were excited after they received their first check,” he said. “Their pay doubled by adding the bus driving pay.” He added that the hardest part about

recruiting new drivers is identifying candidates with the proper tempera- ment to work with students. While conceding that kids will be kids, Price said his perspective on why schools have so many driver vacancies is a general lack of family values. “No one wants to drive a bus with unruly kids who have no respect for anyone else,” he said. “That is why it’s a parent problem. “Parents call in all the time wanting to

see video of their child’s incident on the bus and say that [their child] wouldn’t do that. It’s a real eye opener when they see how their child really acts.” Beth Cain, the transportation


director for Piqua City Schools, said that for the moment she is narrow- ly avoiding the driver shortage. “We currently have enough staff to cover our current routes. But if anyone gets sick, we are begging subs to come in and drive for us,” she relayed. “Our subs have other jobs and sometimes cannot help. We use my administra- tive assistant and a custodian to help out more than we should.” And given the national driver short- age, Cain said she doesn’t see the situ- ation improving in 2020. She suggest- ed that schools have a hard time filling routes for several reasons. “These jobs are split shift. So, it’s hard if you need eight hours a day to find time to do an additional job,” she explained. “Pay has to come up, but it is still low for the amount of responsibility and liability a person has. The behavior of students today is a deterrent. It’s very difficult to drive with kids acting up behind you, hitting and swearing.” Deb Graber, transportation director

at Pettisville Schools near the Michi- gan border, reported an up-and-down situation this school year. “We have drivers for all our regular routes. But we are definitely short subs,” she said. The district’s solution was to run a

second route, for example, “after another regular afternoon route this past Friday, after not having a sub for one of our regular routes.” And she said she is also “confident we will not have any new subs prior to Christmas,” so their current situation will continue into the new year. Given that, Graber said she is hope-

ful that her district can attract several sub drivers this school year, whether that consists of sharing a neighboring school system, or getting their own. “We have had a couple of subs in the past who we have shared with a neigh- boring school district, and that has always worked out well,” she reported. Graber said the primary reasons for those vacancies are that most people don’t want the responsibility. “Most adults will need a supplemental job for financial reasons. Bus driving is an interruption during the day, so you would need the right job, in order to be able to also drive a bus,” she concluded. “Most employers do not have that flexibility.” •


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