Lawton_Driving a 10-ton bus can be challenging and intimidating, and school transportation officials across the United States say that they have a serious shortage of bus drivers. They say that too often, the shortage is causing students to miss the start of their first class, or make them late getting home in the afternoon - sometimes by as much as an hour. Lawton Public Schools (LPS) and Duncan Public Schools say it's the reason why they are ramping up their recruiting efforts.
Both school districts say that they are doing all that they can to ensure that students will make it to their classes on time. Current drivers are expected to add additional routes, and if that isn't enough, teachers who are qualified will be pulled from their classrooms to drive buses. Duncan Public Schools Transportation Supervisor, Gary Ferguson, says that the turnover rate for school bus drivers is high. "One day you're fully staffed, the next day you're hunting for a bus driver," he says. "That's kind of the nature with bus drivers." "This time last year - this very day - we were about 16 drivers short," says LPS Transportation Supervisor, John Cargill. "We hired up, we brought the numbers up, and we're back down now about 16 drivers short again."
Cargill says that they are shorthanded even if they have all 115 needed drivers. They say that they need to fill in for those who quit because they cannot afford to find replacements in the middle of the school year. "We're hauling almost 10,000 kids a day, and it's very necessary to have drivers on the road," he says. Ferguson says that last year, they were so short that he had to jump behind the wheel - this year they may have to pull coaches from their classrooms.
Both transportation directors say that they majority of drivers that they hire are looking for supplemental income, and that the job is perfect for parents with kids in school since they would be on the same schedule. If you are interested in becoming a school bus driver, LPS holds its bus driving classes four times per year, and Duncan Public Schools offers its session each fall.
Contact the districts for more information.