06/09/17 — Schools offer bus driver training

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Schools offer bus driver training

By Joey Pitchford
Published in News on June 9, 2017 7:14 AM

In preparation for the 2017-18 school year, the Wayne County public school system will hold a school bus driver training class June 20 through 22 at the Maintenance Auxiliary Training building at 1601 Salem Church Road.

Bus driver training is an especially important topic for the district right now, as a shortage of bus drivers has led to a restructuring of some school schedules. Fixing the shortage has been a near-constant topic of discussion at board of education meetings and work sessions over the past few months.

Some have suggested that raising bus driver pay is the best way to solve the problem. While this could help, board member and former transportation director Raymond Smith Jr. has said that the limited hours inherent to the job mean a pay increase alone can only go so far.

The board recently approved a new commercial driver's license requirement for new instructional assistants, custodians and cafeteria workers. Those new hires will be expected to fill in and drive buses when the regular bus driver is unavailable, which the district hopes will help alleviate the shortage issue.

The class being offered in June consists of three instructional days, administered by the N.C. Department of Transportation.

Applicants will take four written tests during those days before obtaining a commercial driver's license permit. After that, applicants will begin roadwork, culminating in a skills test designed to run them through some obstacles bus drivers encounter on a daily basis.

After passing the tests, an applicant can gain employment with the school system.

"Once you've passed those tests you can get slotted into a position if there are vacancies, which there are right now," said Robert Lee, Wayne County Public Schools director of transportation.

Applicants will go through a screening process before being admitted to the class. Certain requirements apply, including being free from license revocations and having no more than two moving violations on one's record.

Applicants who pass the tests will also be subject to a background check by the school system.

The school system holds bus driver classes approximately every six weeks, Lee said. This particular class is especially important, as it comes after students have gotten out of school and the district can more closely examine its transportation needs.

To apply for the school, pick up a bus driver application at the WCPS Human Resources Office, transportation department or any Wayne County public school. Return the application to the transportation department at 1603 Salem Church Road.