COPPERAS COVE — Copperas Cove ISD currently has 91 buses in its fleet with a request to purchase two more at a cost of $110,000 each for use this fall as students return to campuses.

Despite student lessons taught remotely from mid-March through the end of May, transportation staff have remained busy delivering more than 6,000 meals to Copperas Cove senior citizens through the Cove Cares program and serving the school district’s fleet of buses.

CCISD Transportation Director Gary Elliott says the pandemic gave transportation personnel time to deliver meals, get caught up on a back log of work orders, and prepare for new bus routes, registration, and in-service scheduling.

“All buses have had a complete service preformed from front to rear. All buses have been cleaned thoroughly inside and out which has included replacing all of the seat covers and seat foam, tire replacement, the bumpers have been repainted, and required stickers have been replaced with new ones,” Elliott said.

The district currently employs 65 bus drivers and 22 aides. Seven additional drivers are needed prior to the start of the school year. 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.

“The drivers I cannot say enough about. They are the first contact for students in the morning and the last in the evening,” Elliott said. “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.”

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.

CCISD buses are equipped with a four-camera system with video cameras mounted in both the front and the rear and air conditioning. The proposed new buses would be replacements in CCISD’s fleet for two buses that date back to 1994. Elliott said the average replacement for a bus is 15 years but credits an experienced mechanical staff that keeps the buses functionally sound extending their lives in the fleet.

CCISD bus drivers are currently transporting students to summer school, English as a Second Language classes, and summer enrichment groups. Drivers will transport students to CCISD’s annual Ranger Reading Camp in July while also continuing to keep fleet maintenance vehicles on the road.

254-501-7568 | dperdue@kdhnews.com

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