The Muscogee County School District’s bus driver shortage isn’t more than usual, officials say, but they now are using an unusual way of trying to solve it.
Robo-calls and email blasts to parents and guardians of the more than 30,000 students are spreading the message that MCSD is searching for help in attracting bus drivers. Here is the text of the message MCSD has sent:
“The District is currently experiencing a bus driver shortage leading to some delayed student pickups and deliveries. While most routes are not impacted, those that are will vary and compound daily depending on driver absenteeism, mechanical issues, and field trips. In the event of a delay, we will make all efforts to contact the schools and parent/guardians to inform them of the delay and of adjustments to schedules. We regret and apologize for any delays and are now asking for the community’s help in recruiting bus drivers.
“Anyone interested in a part-time job with benefits, please… contact the Transportation Department or apply online. Qualified applicants will receive training, guaranteed hours, and a benefit package. Your assistance is greatly appreciated.”
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MCSD operations chief David Goldberg told the Ledger-Enquirer the school system has 29 vacancies for bus drivers out of the 222 regular positions.
To plug the gap, Goldberg said, some MCSD bus drivers are covering multiple routes and all supervisors with a commercial driver’s license are driving routes. All of which causes another problem, he said, “because when there’s an issue, nobody is left in the office.”
Goldberg listed seven schools with daily bus route delays, ranging from 20-30 minutes: Carver, Columbus, Kendrick and Northside high schools and Aaron Cohn, Blackmon Road and Eddy middle schools.
“We make every effort, with our resources, to get the elementary school students picked up on time,” Goldberg said, “which means split and double routes.”
Superintendent David Lewis told the Muscogee County School Board during Monday night’s meeting that systems throughout the state and country are experiencing bus driver shortages. Board member Naomi Buckner of District 4 surmised, “When the economy gets better, people have more choices.”
MCSD pays its bus driver trainees minimum wage. Training lasts 2-3 weeks for those already having a commercial driver’s license. Training for those without a CDL takes 1-2 months, Goldberg said.
After training, the MCSD bus driver’s starting salary, according to the posted job opening, is $13.96 per hour, paid bi-weekly over 186 work days. The requirements are:
▪ Educational Level: High School Education or GED is preferred
▪ Certification/License Required: Must have a valid Georgia Commercial Driver’s Permit or a Commercial Driver's License with S or P Endorsement.
▪ Experience: Must have at least eight years of regular driving experience; Commercial Driving experience is preferred. Must have a good driving history. (Must provide consent for MCSD to obtain a Motor Vehicle Driving Report.)
▪ Physical Activities: Must meet DOT physical requirements for bus driver.
▪ Knowledge, Skills, & Abilities: Written and oral communication
▪ Other: Pre-employment and annual physical examination; must successfully complete Bus Driver Training Program provided by Muscogee County School District Transportation Department