Melvin Cotten

Melvin Cotten

At a time when every school district is experiencing a shortage of bus drivers, there is one driver that never misses a day of work.

Melvin Cotten has worked as a bus driver for Copperas Cove ISD for 24 years and he loves his job.

“Drivers, like Mr. Cotten, I cannot say enough about. They are the first contact for students in the morning and the last in the evening,” said Gary Elliott, director of transportation.

“Anybody that would turn his back (to keep his eyes on the road) on 60-plus students in today’s traffic and get them home safely is a credit in my eyes,” he added.

Cotten was honored as the Copperas Cove ISD Transportation Department Employee of the Year at Tuesday’s CCISD Board of Trustees monthly meeting. Elliott said that Cotten is a role model to students he is transporting.

“Mr. Cotten sets a fine example for the children. He is firm but fair and the students respect him,” Elliott said.

Elliott, his secretary, Bonnie Edmonds, and all employees in the transportation department are certified bus drivers to assist whenever a driver calls in sick or needs time away from work or the district is short on drivers.

“Mr. Cotten is one fine employee,” Elliott said. “If you could clone bus drivers, Mr. Cotten would be a good starting place.”

The CCISD Transportation Department has 96 employees including the driver and aides for its fleet of 93 buses.

CCISD needs 12 additional drivers. Starting pay for bus drivers is $13.79 per hour with a guarantee of five hours per day.

New drivers receive a $400 sign-on bonus with the district paying for their Class B Commercial Drivers’ License after one full year of employment.

Candidates must possess a Class B CDL, P&S endorsements, and complete a 20-hour Department of Public Safety certification class for which the fee is paid by CCISD. Drivers must also pass a background check, driver record history check, and annual physical. A CCISD employee who refers an individual for employment that is hired as a driver receives a $200 finder’s fee if that driver remains with the district for the duration of the school year. Individuals interested in applying can do so online at

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