School districts statewide are seeing a bus driver shortage and local districts are among them.
Sixty-two positions need to be filled in Killeen Independent School District, out of the 373 total positions, said KISD’s Chief Communications Officer Terry Abbott.
That’s a 16 percent shortfall in the number of bus drivers for the district, which has 44,300 students and expects to grow to 45,000 in October, Abbott said.
Copperas Cove ISD has its own shortage.
Three of 60 total positions need to be filled, a 5 percent shortfall, said CCISD Director of Support Services Gary Elliot.
CCISD has a student enrollment of 8,221, up from last year’s enrollment of 8,100.
These districts are not alone. As of Aug. 23, Dallas ISD Director of Transportation Felicia Harris said in an interview with Fox 4 News that DISD was short about 100 drivers. As of Aug. 21, Northside ISD, near San Antonio, was short 50 drivers, while North East ISD (San Antonio’s second largest district) was short 17 drivers. And as of Aug. 30, Pearland ISD was short 18 drivers.
To address KISD’s shortage, Abbott said, KISD transportation department staff are taking some of the routes, bus drivers are taking extra routes and the district is adapting some of the routes. Also, coaches with commercial drivers licenses, or CDLs, are being utilized for extracurricular events.
Abbott said there is an inherent problem getting drivers with commercial licenses.
“Industries (such as Amazon) need drivers with CDLs,” he said. “It’s a competitive market.”
Shelea Reed of Houston ISD noted the same thing. “One of the challenges we’re facing is that Amazon is snapping up people left and right. ... it’s the CDL component.” She also reported that HISD is short 120 bus drivers of the necessary 920.
Locally, Lampasas ISD is short five drivers out of 40 positions; Salado ISD is short two drivers out of 17 positions; Florence ISD is short two drivers out of 10 positions; Temple ISD is short six drivers out of 50 positions, area school officials said on Friday. Only Belton ISD was reporting that all bus driver positions were filled.
In KISD, the requirements for applicants are that they must maintain a Class A commercial driver’s license with passenger and student endorsements; be able to pass the Department of Transportation physical, as well as an initial drug test; and hold a valid Texas driver’s license with less than 10 points assessed within the last three years from driving school buses. Abbott said the physical, drug test, and motor vehicle record are provided by KISD.
Hiring requirements are the same for those who drive the buses for special needs children.
KISD pays its drivers $13.78 per hour. “Pay is evaluated annually. The general pay increase is presented to and approved the Board,” Abbott said. For instance, for this school year, employees received a general 2 percent pay increase.
As to route requirements or opportunities for additional routes, Abbott said, “We operate on a tiered schedule that often requires a regular bus route to support up to three different campuses. Additionally, we have activity bus routes that support extracurricular activities during the day, in the evenings, and on weekends. These route requirements fluctuate based on many factors, as do the number of drivers who choose to accept the optional routes.”
KISD hires year-round. To apply, visit https://www.killeenisd.org/human_resources.
Copperas Cove ISD’s requirements for applicants are that they must maintain a Class B commercial driver’s license with passenger and student endorsements; have 20 hours of certification; and be able to pass a background check, a driver’s license check and a physical.
Elliot said drivers of special needs buses are given additional training.
CCISD pays its drivers $13.65, and Elliot said there is a five-hour-a-day guarantee. As for pay increases, Elliot said there were “step increases for years of experience.”
Elliot said that all drivers have two routes, with the rural routes being one trip.
CCISD hires year-round. To apply, visit https://www.ccisd.com and click on the “employment” tab.