ROANOKE, Va. (WFXR) — Durham School Services says they have enough drivers to cover all their routes plus a pool of substitutes. The bus driver shortage isn’t over, but Durham’s Southeast Region Manager Hale Driver says they have about 107 CDL-certified drivers practicing their new routes.
Roanoke City Public Schools applied a new bell schedule and bus routes to address the transportation issues raised by parents last year.
“Staffing was definitely the biggest challenge and I have a feeling it will continue to be, but we’re going to continue to push it,” said Driver.
There’s been work to address problems facing drivers too, like student discipline on the buses. Last year Durham reported one of its drivers was shot in the head with a pellet gun.
“We’ve been working hand in hand with the district, there are some additional trainings taking place this year,” said Driver. “The district is providing some student management training, some de-escalation techniques.”
The pay was another concern. Driver says there’s just been an annual increase for drivers.
“We’re doing wage analysis for this upcoming school year and anticipate there will be some changes coming there as well,” he said.
An important point pressed last year by the schools: if Durham doesn’t get kids to schools, teachers can’t do their jobs.
“We were waiting to have an opportunity to analyze the routes and see what the route count was going to come in at and see where we stood. We know that now and I feel like we’re in a good position,” said Driver.
As the school year nears, he’s optimistic, and drivers are ready to greet students and get them safely to their classrooms.