08/01/05 — Schools are still looking for drivers

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Schools are still looking for drivers

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on August 1, 2005 1:47 PM

With classes only a few weeks away, Wayne County school officials are still scrambling to find bus drivers.

School officials must hunt to find enough drivers to keep the system's 225 routes operating, and work year-round to recruit and keep dependable people behind the wheel, transportation director Raymond Smith Jr. said.

"I don't ever recall a time when we didn't need bus drivers," Smith said.

In addition to the daily routes, there is a need for drivers to operate 31 activity buses and substitute drivers who can step in at a moment's notice.

"We're prayerful we'll have enough," he said.

Keeping a handle on the driver situation is sometimes difficult, Smith said. Because drivers are not under contract, the schools don't always know how many bus drivers it has at any given time.

"We have a salary agreement," Smith said. "It's on what we're paying them by the hour for the route they'll handle."

Salaries are based on the length of the route. The system's transportation information management system, or TIMS, is a computerized route system that maps out routes and updates them as needed.

The transportation department spends the entire summer mapping out routes, which can change almost daily.

"We're getting new students in constantly," Smith said. "Every time a new student registers, it changes our routes."

Bus routes also have to be adjusted to accommodate students with special needs, Smith said. For example, if a child chooses to switch schools because of adequate yearly progress results at a particular school, the school system is responsible for seeing to it that the student is able to attend the proper campus.

Smith's staff also manages the student driver's education program, which operates almost year-round.

"We have our hands in a lot of pots," he said.

School transportation employees are currently involved in training a new group of bus drivers for the coming school year. Applicants are screened for eligibility, which is based on driving and criminal records and medical history.

For more information, call the transportation office at 705-6080.