TYLER, Texas (KLTV) - Tyler Independent School District is getting creative when it comes to filling a shortage in bus drivers -- a problem that’s being felt nationwide.
Tyler ISD is looking for qualified drivers with a Class B license to join its district team as a bus driver. Even if you’re interested but don’t have the required license, the district said it can train you to meet the requirement.
“We’re having to double-up some routes, we’re having to do some creative, out-of-the-box thinking to make we sure we get all of the routes covered,” said John Bagert, director of transportation for Tyler ISD.
“We’re getting the job done any way we possibly can right now.”
Bagert said the district is down 24 driving positions out of 100. The district has curtailed field trips and used more charter bus services, which costs the district more money.
Bus driver Dwain Hare drove for FedEx for 33 years. He said he looked into driving for a school district after a co-worker’s mother said it was “the greatest job in the world to have.”
“You can tell when [students are] not having a good day, and you can tell when they’re having a great day," Hare said. "And you can take it as a challenge to make sure every day is a great day, at least their experience on the bus.”
About one-third of the drivers working for the district are retirees who drive buses for extra income. Each driver is guaranteed at least four hours of work a day, but with extra trips like midday programs and shuttling for high schools, that could increase to six to eight hours a day. Also, guaranteed holidays off.
“We also transport for 6,500 trips per year; UIL, athletics, visual and performing arts, educational events like transporting to the Discovery Science [Place],” Bagert explained.
“We put on about a million-and-a-half miles per year just in transporting students."
According to the school district, drivers’ morning pickup shifts are between 5:15 a.m. and 6:30 a.m., and drop-off is around 2:30 to 4:45 p.m.
“You’re the first person from TISD they see in the morning, and you’re the last person from TISD they see in the afternoon,” Hare said.
“It’s wonderful. The longer you do it -- as you stay on the same route -- you get to learn your kids real well, and it’s a real pleasure to deal with them every day."
For those interested in applying for the position, visit tylerisd.org and click on “Employment” at the bottom of the page.