Widgetized Section

Go to Admin » Appearance » Widgets » and move Gabfire Widget: Social into that MastheadOverlay zone

Bus driver shortage still critical

The Colleton County School District is still facing a long-term school bus driver shortage, but officials have gained four more interested drivers from a recent seminar.
The district’s Transportation Department recently held a bus driver training seminar from Aug. 29 through Sept. 1. This seminar was open to the public, and was meant to garner interested bus drivers. Only four people came to that seminar; however, all four are in the process of becoming certified school bus drivers, said DJ Washington, school district transportation director.
“We are still experiencing a shortage of drivers, but in the next five weeks, we hope to have four more certified drivers on the road,” he said.
The school district has been in a bus driver shortage for the last two years. The district started this school year already 10-12 drivers down, which created a need for multiple bus drivers to do daily double runs in order for children to get and to from school. These double runs are happening throughout the county, said Washington, and are not primarily in one area.
According to Washington, the district’s problems in keeping bus drivers is two-fold: the district frequently loses already-certified drivers to neighboring districts that offer better pay, he said, and the district has a hard time recruiting competent drivers who can pass a background check.
“Every time we get close to having the number we need to be fully functional, someone retires or someone resigns,” said Washington, in a previous interview. “I could take 12 new drivers now just to have enough for the current routes to run.”
In addition to the driver shortage, there is also a long waiting list of students wanting to ride the bus.
According to Washington, about 300 students were originally waiting to be approved for bus transportation to and from school. That number is starting to decrease as the school year is now rolling more smoothly. “The number of requests coming in at the start of the year was about 300,” he said, adding that this request list is unusually long.
“It’s been a normal, hectic opening of a school year, but overall it is a good opening and we are working out the wrinkles and are staying positive,” said Washington.
There are no current incentives in Colleton to retain bus drivers, and there is no hiring bonus, he said.

Heather Walters (899 Posts)