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Bus drivers needed in area school systems

September 06, 2005|by KAREN HANNA

karenh@herald-mail.com

The wheels on the bus aren't the only thing going 'round and 'round. For some Tri-State school bus supervisors, the wheels also are spinning to find more drivers.

Transportation directors at some area schools say they are running on empty when it comes to finding new drivers and substitutes.

At Washington County Public Schools, which added three routes this year to accommodate increased student enrollment, Transportation Director Chris Carter said he needs five regular drivers and a slew of substitutes, bus assistants and crossing guards to complete his roster.

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"There's more than enough work for anybody," Carter said Thursday.

To advertise the need for more drivers, Carter said the school system recently has parked two spare buses in areas around Hagerstown with signs asking for help.

Washington County Schools started Aug. 24.

Because of increases in enrollment and retirements, Berkeley County Schools' recruitment never ends, said Ron Cartee, transportation director for the West Virginia school district.

"It's kind of a double-edged thing there. We've got growth - and again, this is a nationwide problem - we have a good deal of operators reaching retirement age," Cartee said Thursday.

The school system this year added five routes and replaced three drivers who retired, Cartee said.

Cartee and Carter said they have had to dip into their substitute lists to fill routes this year. Some members of the school systems' transportation staffs also are qualified to drive, the directors said.

Chambersburg (Pa.) Area School District also advertises all the time for more substitute drivers, transportation department secretary Becky Runk said Thursday.

According to Carter, prospective drivers and substitutes might wait up to two months between signing up and getting their commercial driver's licenses. Training consists of only 20 hours of classroom instruction and about 20 hours of behind-the-wheel practice, Carter said, but new drivers often have to wait for appointments to take their state exams. While driving is rewarding, it also is a tough job with a lot of responsibility, Carter said.

Not all drivers work full time or qualify for benefits, school system transportation directors said.

But, prospective drivers for Washington County or Berkeley County schools are almost guaranteed routes, Cartee and Carter said.

According to Carter, Washington County might add routes as the year goes on because of increasing enrollment.

Cartee said the problem is widespread.

"I'll tell you, if you're a substitute driver wanting full-time employment in Berkeley County, it's going to be made available to you sometime this year because we're going to continue to grow," Cartee said.




Get on the bus



Transportation staffs at Morgan County and Berkeley County Schools in West Virginia, Chambersburg Area Schools in Pennsylvania and Washington County Public Schools are seeking people to become substitute or regular bus drivers.

Washington County schools also are seeking bus assistants, who help children with special needs, and crossing guards, Transportation Director Chris Carter said.

For more information about school transportation jobs, call Morgan County Schools at 304-258-1685; Berkeley County Schools at 304-267-3575; Chambersburg Area School District at 717-263-9281; or Washington County Public Schools at 301-766-2801.

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