As the first day of the new school year rapidly approaches, some local school districts are still facing staffing shortages. While teachers are still needed, bus drivers are also in high demand in many districts, CBS News reported.
Frisco ISD has 50 open positions in its transportation department. It is hiring bus drivers, bus monitors, and crossing guards.
“We’re looking at every opportunity that we can to maximize the versatility of different types of employees,” the Frisco ISD managing director of transportation, Jared Castor, said. “We’re looking at maybe the stay-at-home mom since we do allow staff to bring their kids to school and bring their kids to work on the bus.”
To attract applicants, the district has raised wages to $22/hr with paid benefits, added a $1,000 signing bonus, and will pay for Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) training.
Lake Worth ISD is looking for five bus drivers, offering $19 an hour and guaranteeing at least five hours of work a day. The district is giving current bus drivers a monetary incentive for recruiting new drivers.
“Having a lot of our bus drivers do the recruiting, they know the quality of who we are bringing in,” said Dr. Rose Mary Neshyba, superintendent of Lake Worth ISD.
Drivers are needed to transport kids to and from school, but they also have a very powerful effect on students’ outlook on school.
“It’s all hands on deck looking for the drivers because they are critical in setting the tone for the beginning and ending of the day with our students,” Neshyba added.
If the positions aren’t filled when the first day rolls around, both districts told CBS News that other bus drivers will have to pick up the routes or that they will have to look for potential drivers among staff with a CDL.
As districts scramble to fill vacancies, many have offered more pay, bonuses, and even four-day work schedules to incentivize teachers and staff to get back into the classroom, as previously reported by The Dallas Express.
A continued teacher shortage in the district would undoubtedly compound existing issues with academic performance.
In the Class of 2020, 85.9% of Lake Worth ISD students received their high school diplomas on time or earlier, placing below the statewide rate of 90.3%. The dropout rate for students in grades 9-12 was 1.1% during the 2019-2020 school year. This gives Lake Worth ISD an accountability rating of “C.”
Dallas ISD has historically struggled to ensure that its students are sufficiently equipped to meet certain educational goals. For example, Dallas ISD’s STAAR scores for the 2020-2021 school year came in well below the statewide average. For all grades and all subjects, only 60% of Dallas ISD students were “approach[ing] grade level,” compared to 69% in the state.
Additionally, a four-year longitudinal study following the graduating class of 2020 found that only 82.8% of the Dallas ISD students graduated high school on time.