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Danville schools in need of bus drivers

Shortage of drivers limiting transportation options for students, families

 

There is a dire need of school bus drivers for the Danville School District.

If it wasn’t hard enough for some families to balance their children’s virtual learning at home and attending school two days a week, some are now facing a transportation problem due to a shortage of bus drivers.

Because of the shortage, the district can only provide bus transportation for preschool and some special needs students this week. No transportation is available for students in first through 12th grades.

In a letter to families last week, Danville Schools Superintendent Dr. Tammy McDonald wrote, “We are working diligently to have this issue resolved as soon as possible, as we know the inconvenience and hardship this puts on our families.”

She added that if any family is unable to provide transportation to and from school, their student may return to all virtual learning at home during this week.

Ed McKinney, Danville Schools director of facilities and transportation, said anyone who is interested in getting their CDL license and becoming a school bus driver is asked to attend an orientation meeting (today) Tuesday, Oct. 27 at 4:30 p.m. at Danville High School.

“Bus driver shortages predate the pandemic,” McKinney said. “But COVID has made it even a more heightened problem.”

For someone to earn a CDL school bus license, they will take about 21 hours of training over the course of several weeks, McKinney said. This includes in-person classroom work as well as driving skills time. If someone already has a CDL license, they’ll still need to complete the specialized classroom work.

All training is free and will take place in Danville, he added. And classes will be scheduled around the trainer’s schedule (who also drives a local bus) and the schedules of those who are taking the class. This could include evening and weekend hours.

The minimum contract for bus drivers guarantees the driver to be paid for four hours a day, five days a week. There are also opportunities to work extra hours, McKinney said.

Because of the current A/B hybrid model where only half of students have in-person learning Mondays and Tuesdays, and the second half on Thursdays and Fridays, buses are far less full, McKinney explained. And only one student per seat is allowed.

Between routes, the bus driver and bus monitor are also responsible for sanitizing wiping down the interior of the bus.

Several experienced drivers have taken leaves during the pandemic, McKinney said. Since many of them are retired, “They’re concerned about their health and we understand that.”

But the district still needs to provide transportation to and from schools.

And, he said, it wants to be ready and fully staffed when the students can once again attend school five days a week.

To be a good school bus driver, a person not only has to be a skillful and safe driver, they must also “relate to the kids,” McKinney said. “They need to like people and like kids. And, they’ve got to be a morning person.”

Anyone interested in learning more about how to become a school bus driver for the Danville School district should email McKinney at ed.mckinney@danvillekyschools.us

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