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School district desperately seeking bus drivers

ABHUTCHISON, Sierra Sun

A statewide school bus driver shortage has the Tahoe-Truckee Unified School District asking transportation department administrators and mechanics who hold the proper licenses to operate occasional bus routes.

“At this point we don’t have any sub drivers other than the ones that are on daily routes,” TTUSD director of transportation Bill Jamieson said. “We are looking for bus drivers to recruit. We’re doing everything that we can right now.”

The district has 35 daily routes and 35 current drivers. Because they don’t have a substitute pool to draw from, when regular drivers aren’t available, Jamieson said the district’s transportation coordinator, himself or one of the mechanics must fill in, taking away from administrative duties and necessary bus maintenance.

“It’s always nice to have eight to 10 sub drivers on a regular basis that we can pull from,” Jamieson said. “It’s down to the transportation coordinator, myself and the maintenance person.”

The district has been able to cover its daily routes, but scheduling has been tight. As a result of the shortage, Jamieson has had to notify school site prinicipals that the transportation department is unable to provide busing for athletic activity trips unless they leave after 4 p.m. or on Saturdays.

California’s stringent licensing and certification requirements have made recruitment difficult, Jamieson said. He hopes to recruit drivers to sign up for a certification class in the near future. The district pays for the preemployment testing and provides all of the necessary training to get the certificate.

The pay range for school bus drivers in this district starts at $10.32/hr. and goes up to $14.15/hr. for a permanent route.

“As soon as we have enough people interested, we will get a class going,” Jamieson said. “We do all of the training, they don’t have to have any experience to come in.”

Most of the district’s current drivers are mothers who have children in the schools, and come in and drive, have the mid-day hours off and the same holidays as the children.

California has one of the highest standards for bus drivers in the nation and applicants must have a commercial driver’s license, a minimum of 20 hours of classroom instruction and 30 hours of driving instruction before they are eligible to take the California Highway Patrol’s certification test.

All applicants must also have a criminal background check and physical exam as well as a clean driving record.

The TTUSD transportation department, which is providing bus transportation throughout the town for the Truckee Town Portrait 2000, will have a bus with a banner up at the town portrait event on Sunday, Sept. 17. Staff will be on hand for questions and bus driver applications will be available.

For information on becoming a bus driver, call 582-7605.


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