Districts struggle to keep bus drivers


Thursday, August 28th 2008, 10:25 pm
By: News 9


By Colleen Chen, NEWS 9

OKLAHOMA CITY -- Schools around the state have started, which means the bus routes and the drivers who run them have also started their school year.

Several districts have since seen a shortage of drivers this year and the districts are doing everything they can to get the much needed help.

Joe Amour is training to be a bus driver for Putnam City Schools.

"It's going beautiful," Amour said. "I'm enjoying it."

The districts have experienced a lack of employees willing to go through the extensive testing and stay long term.

Bob Olmstead, his trainer, has driven school buses for 19 years and said he's realized there's a shortage of drivers.

"I understand we have 10 or 11 drivers that tomorrow is their last day," Olmstead said.

Putnam City has a full core group of drivers, but continued to look for reserves.

Deer Creek needed four more drivers just to be at a normal level and has had to schedule people to work double duty.

"We're sending all our assistant principals to driving school," said Deer Creek Schools Transportation Director Richard Vrooman.

The districts struggle with a high turnover rate, which some believe to be a result of the part time hours bus drivers are given.

Another issue is the high cost of training drivers. Some drivers attend the training, become licensed and leave for better driving jobs.

"They need people like us to bring them to school safe and take them home safe," Amour said.

Some districts have increased pay, which has helped keep drivers employed for the districts, but it has not completely solved the problem.