SCHOOL bus drivers needed

Wednesday, August 8th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

The search for who will drive your children to school this year. Tulsa Public School students head back to school in a week, and the district is looking hard for bus drivers to get them there.

Schools nationwide struggle with the chronic shortage of bus drivers. KOTV's Glenda Silvey says driving children to and from school is an important job. So why do school districts nationwide have such a hard time filling it? Tulsa Public Schools says one reason is that it's a nine-month contract. Transportation director for Tulsa Schools Bob Haddux, "Many districts don't pay 12 month a year jobs. I know in Tulsa it's particularly bad because the economy is so good - the job market's tight - there's a demand for entry level people which we often attract."

Haddux says some people, including retirees and homemakers, like working only nine months a year. Training takes seven days and requires passing a written and driver exam. The job guarantees 25 hours a week, but drivers can turn it into a full time job by driving extra-curricular activities. Celia Morgan drove a school bus while living in California, and is training to drive here. "Well I enjoy kids, for one thing, and I like working with the public, so it's a great job. It's a great opportunity to get involved with the kids."

Tulsa will try some new ways to attract drivers, according to Haddux, "One of the things we're going to entertain this year on sort of an experimental basis is we're going to allow housewives who want to drive who can't afford day care because it just offsets what they make to bring their toddlers - and I'm talking about the age limit of probably two to four years - on the bus."

Concern about student behavior keeps some from driving a bus, but Haddux says the district is tough on discipline so there aren't many problems. And besides the usual employee benefits, there's another one, the opportunity to be a friend and mentor to children.

Tulsa Public Schools needs at least 25 drivers. The job pays $7.62 to start, then up to $8.42 after 45 days. Broken Arrow Schools needs 14 drivers, salary there starts at $8.53 an hour. Union Public Schools has openings for four drivers. Jenks Public Schools has no current openings but is still taking applications.