Bus Driver Shortage Puts Custodians on Sports Trips

 

Regional School Unit 9 has a shortage of bus drivers, but it is not the only school district needing help.

The problem is statewide, David Leavitt, director of support services, said.

“We are three drivers short. We have been since the start of school,” he said.

Two of those are regular to-and-from school routes.

“We actually have six positions open,” he said, with three of them being custodial.

The district requires all new custodians to get their bus driver’s license prior to the sixth-month probation period ending, he said.

Leavitt said he talked to someone in Hampden on Thursday who said they are seven drivers short. The district was asked if it could be hired to drive up and get their student athletes and bring them down to play against Mt. Blue teams, he said.

“It’s a demanding job,” he said. “We’re ending up pulling custodians off their regular jobs to go on sports trips. It affects the whole district.”

People who are hired to clean schools or do other maintenance tasks are having to drive, he said. The district has to pay overtime to get the work done.

“It is an increased cost,” Leavitt said.

He has advertised three times since June, and the last cycle of advertising drew no applicants.

“We pay people while we’re training them,” he said. “We cover the expenses of getting them licensed.”

The starting wage for a driver is $12.14 an hour, and a custodian starts at $11.29.

Part of the training includes getting a commercial driver’s license.

Five custodians have their bus driver’s license.

Drug testing is required for bus drivers. The district falls under the federal regulations because of the commercial driver’s license required to drive a bus, so no medical marijuana use is permitted, he said.

School buses are driven approximately 3,000 miles a day in the 10- town district. With trips included, RSU 9 buses travel approximately 500,000 miles a year.

This article was republished with permission from the author, Donna Perry. The original article was posted in the Sun Journal and can be viewed here.

 

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