Caddo Schools superintendent lays out new path for bus drivers

Caddo Schools superintendent lays out new path for bus drivers
Dr. Lamar Goree, the superintendent of the Caddo Parish School District in Shreveport, holds a news conference on his action plan to address problems facing school bus drivers. (Source: Scott Pace/KSLA)

SHREVEPORT, La. (KSLA) - There are new developments with the highly-publicized troubles facing bus drivers in the Caddo Parish School District - ranging from driver shortages to low pay. On Tuesday, Oct. 22, the superintendent called a news conference to address all those concerns and laid out plans to solve them.

It has been a bumpy ride for bus drivers in the first two months of the school year in Caddo Parish, starting with a shortage of drivers.

Superintendent Dr. Lamar Goree is reassuring the public that the district does have a driver for each of their 287 daily bus routes - and are looking to hire 28 more drivers.

Dr. Goree also announced some good news about drivers.

"Monday we have 26 bus drivers that are actually starting a class. So we could be as short as two bus drivers short by the end of the month of November."

Dr. Goree says they could also hire a new transportation director by December.

"We do believe that this decision, as we talk through issues today, will play a major role in how we will ultimately address and solve the issues that many of our drivers have brought forward."

Dr. Goree says they've also commissioned a study on pay compared to districts across Louisiana,

not to mention greatly speeding up the process of paying drivers for extra routes or assignments.

Some bus drivers described being cautiously optimistic, saying they like what they heard but want to see it put into action.

That included bus driver "I'm impressed. I'm still on the fence, okay. I'm, I'm the one that's I want to watch and see."

Sitting right next to her, fellow bus driver Brandi Batts agreed.

"I was really impressed if he, you now, if we can accomplish some of the things that he was talking about we will all be very pleased and happy."

Union president Jackie Lansdale told us the first hints of whether anything has really changed will come soon.

"We'll see, you know, are the buses being repaired in a timely fashion."

But Lansdale cautioned they've been here before, like 2014, when optimism soon turned to disappointment.

Perhaps that would help explain why so many drivers are taking what they described as a wait and see approach this time around.

Dr. Goree’s action plan stated the district has hired a recruiter to support hiring and training new bus drivers.

An online tool has also been created to allow staff to submit any further questions or concerns.

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