Several North Texas school districts are struggling to hire what may be hundreds of unfilled bus driver positions.
In the Fort Worth Independent School District there are approximately 70 unfilled bus driver positions, which amounts to about 1 in 5 jobs being vacant.
In the Plano ISD they need to hire around 34 bus drivers.
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In the Frisco ISD there are only about five driver positions that need to be filled, but the prospects of hiring those people may not be as likely as one might expect.
On Thursday morning the district put on a job fair, specifically for jobs in the transportation department like bus driver and bus monitor –- a person is on the bus to help ensure students are able to safely board and ride to and from school –- and no one showed up to apply.
“It’s frustrating because we know that there is a need, we know there are a lot of people out there who would be a good match,” said Doug Becker, Frisco ISD Director of Transportation. “And so we are just trying to be available so we can talk with them.”
According to Becker, his district has made its transportation positions more attractive by raising pay last year –- to $16.80 an hour -– and by offering paid training to candidates who do not have a commercial driver’s license.
With the local economy booming, and unemployment in Texas at near-record lows, it can be difficult to attract people who might otherwise consider positions like a bus driver, Becker said.
The result of unfilled driver positions? The existing bus drivers are forced to do more runs and transport more students on each bus, according to representatives from multiple districts. In addition, they indicated the worst-case scenario is students potentially being late to school.
“Having fewer bus drivers means our dispatchers need to be more creative in scheduling runs so that those drivers who finish first are re-routed for the next group of schools,” said Clint Bond, Fort Worth ISD spokesperson. “For kids it might mean waiting a little bit longer, but not substantially.”