Bus drivers

A school bus stopped at the intersection of Trimmier and Stagecoach Road in Killeen, September 7, 2018.

A new Killeen Independent School District policy mandates that coaches obtain a commercial driver’s license, or CDL, in order to drive school buses.

According to Ramona Bellard, the executive officer of KISD, the school district has assisted coaches with obtaining their licenses.

“This practice is common throughout the state and KISD has assisted coaches in the training, testing and other requirements,” Bellard said in an email.

KISD also assisted coaches during the past year by providing contracted doctors who administered the medical exams at no cost to coaches. One of the requirements for being a school bus driver in the state of Texas is to have a current Department of Transportation physical.

Bellard said that in the 2019-2020 school year, KISD is expected to again assist coaches in obtaining their licenses.

The requirement comes as the district has been grappling with a shortage of bus drivers for years. The Herald reported in April there were 59 bus driver vacancies out of 311 total bus driver positions. The vacancies had reached as high as 82 in January.

The Herald reported in November that middle and high school coaches were asked to change departure times to athletic events to accommodate driver schedules.

According to the November 2018 article, KISD offered a $500 bonus for coaches who obtained a CDL. The motivation for the bonus was that, at the time, only 12% of the coaches in KISD possessed a license. The coaches heavily relied on regular bus drivers to transport them to-and-from athletic events.

With the new requirement, it is unclear if the $500 bonus for coaches will continue, although according to Bellard, the school district will compensate coaches each time they drive to an event.

“The district is analyzing appropriate stipends associated with the attainment and preservation of a CDL license,” Bellard said in an email.

Current stipends for coaches vary in KISD, depending on the grade level they are coaching, the sport and the position.

timerman@kdhnews.com | 254-501-7559

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