Bus drivers sought; apply now

Big Spring Independent School District has a job for you — but only if you like kids, enjoy driving large vehicles and don’t mind part-time pay.Like other school districts in the West Texas area, BSISD is struggling with a shortage of bus drivers this year. The district, which normally employs 21 drivers, has had to make do with only 16.Because of the driver shortage, the district has had to consolidate its bus routes, said Wayland Pierce, BSISD transportation director.“We’ve had to combine those five routes with the ones we already have,” Pierce said. “We’ve added (distance) to some and we’re picking up a lot more kids at stops than we used to … Basically, our drivers are leaving the barn earlier in the day and getting back later.”Like almost every job sector in West Texas, the school district has been hit hard by the oil boom, but Pierce said other factors are at work in explaining the driver shortage.“There’s a multitude of reasons,” he said. “We’ve had some drivers retire, others have quit to take other jobs and part of it is simple economics — they can’t make ends meet with a part-time job … and the hours are tough for some people. They leave the barn early in the morning and work until about 8:30 a.m., then they come back in the middle of the afternoon. That makes it even more difficult to find drivers.”And BSISD is not the only school district suffering from this problem.“Other schools in West Texas are struggling just as much as we are,” Pierce said. “I’d estimate that most of the districts in this area are at the same percentage of driver shortage as we are.”Pierce added he is constantly on the lookout for new recruits. Persons interested in becoming bus drivers must have a commercial driver’s license with passenger and student endorsements. In addition, they must pass a state-mandated 20-hour safety course taught at the district.“And you definitely have to like kids,” Pierce added. “The job is difficult enough if you like kids, much less if you don’t.”Drivers are guaranteed at least four hours of work a day, sometimes more, he added.Anyone interested in applying for a driver position should contact the BSISD transportation office at 264-4108.Contact Staff Writer Steve Reagan at 263-7331 ext. 235 or by e-mail at reporter@bigspringherald.com