The Carroll County Public School District (CCPSD) is hoping to shore up its ranks with an incentive program so, as the song says, “the wheels on the bus go round and round.”
“We want to get the word out to individuals we are obviously looking for bus drivers,” said Director of Human Resources Elizabeth Motley, noting the current deficit at the CCPSD.
Transportation Director Gina Hall and Motley said a combination of factors including the district not offering insurance for the part-time positions, a cap on hours from the Virginia Retirement System, and Social Security income restrictions coupled with many of the drivers being older has contributed to the recent shortage.
According to Hall, the incentive plan, which was approved by the Board of Education in September, offers any contracted driver who recruits a new driver $100 after the new driver works for six months. The District will provide new drivers with training. After driving for six months, new drivers will be paid $250 for training. (New drivers are required to pay for their background checks and their CDL license.) After driving for one year, new drivers will be paid another $250 and reimbursed for the cost of the CDL license.
“We started (looking) last year (at incentive programs elsewhere) when I realized we were in need of drivers,” said Motley. She said programs in Wythe, Grayson and Floyd were among the programs scrutinized. Hall said the new program seeks to compensate new drivers for the costs involved for training and a CDL license. The District is seeking people interested in being substitute drivers and aides who accompany children with special needs as they are transported. (These aides are specially trained to meet students’ individual needs.) Hall said she would ideally like to fill slots for 68 buses. Administrators, teachers, mechanics (Hall herself) and coaches had stepped up to fill gaps recently.
Motley said the District’s drivers’ ranks contain some younger drivers such as Cory Davis who drives in addition to continuing his studies in college. Two examples of older drivers for the System would be Frank Alvis, who started driving in 1977; and driver Archie Terry who started driving in 1967.
Hall said the District has 68 buses and 12 cars. She said the District provides transportation for programs including Upward Bound, Educational Talent Search, summer sessions of Governor’s School, the Carroll County Educational Center, The Carroll County Recreation Department (as needed), Cavs Tutoring program, Science and Creativity in Motion Camps, 4-H as well as various field trips, special events and athletic games.
At stake as well is a longstanding tradition among stalwart CCPSD drivers who can truly say they have transported many of the students from their first day at school to graduation. Hall and Motley said the importance of drivers goes beyond an impact on limited personnel resources shifted away from regular duties to drive. They stressed that bus drivers are the first representative of the District students see in the morning and the last at the end of their school day. Interested people who would like more information on applying to be a bus driver for the District may contact Hall at 276-730-3200.
David Broyles may be reached at 276-779-4013 or on Twitter@CarrollNewsDave.