(KSLA) — It is widely believed that the nation’s booming economy has led to a bus driver shortage that affects 91% of school districts.
That’s because low unemployment means potential drivers are finding better-paying jobs elsewhere. And that trend has only worsened in recent years.
The national shortage of school bus drivers has now extended to Bossier Parish public schools.
On Monday, the School District’s transportation department used all 15 of its substitute drivers and still had to enlist a coach and five transportation office staffers to drive.
Transportation director David Hadden said that has Bossier casting a wide net in its search for bus drivers.
"We've been to every temp service. We've been to Louisiana Workforce Development. We've put signs on buses. We've been to job fairs. We've posted on Facebook."
While a shortage in school bus drivers is relatively new for Bossier School District, it’s not in Caddo Parish.
That school district has been dealing with it for the past several years.
What Caddo officials have learned is to fully utilize social media and job fairs, not to mention media coverage of the problem.
Because of those factors, they said, they’ve had a lot more success in bringing in more drivers.
“We’ve actually had quite a few applicants who were actually eligible and those now who are currently in the class," said Raylette Jewitt, recruiting and training specialist for Caddo School District’s transportation department.
“We have more in this last training class to come out than before.”
Jewitt said they’ve been able to sign up more drivers by offering full-time employment within 30 days of their initial hiring instead of having to wait the typical two to three years to advance from substitute pay.
“Because for sub drivers the pay is $66.39 a day. But full time, it almost doubles to a $100.21 a day.”
The driving class underway now is the first in which the 30-day full-time offer is being offered.
Caddo officials expect that to allow them to be at full capacity for bus drivers once this new training is completed.
The process to become a school bus driver can take about six weeks, including licensing and training, fingerprinting, a physical exam, drug screening, a background check and a review of your driving record.
That also includes obtaining your CDL, or commercial driver’s license.