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Continuing our discussion on the school bus driver shortage, we found a school district that has implemented an unique way of helping to solve the problem.
Prince William County Public Schools in Virginia is experiencing the national school bus driver shortage just as others are. One of the schools there, Parkside Middle School, turned to teachers to help students arrive at school via the big yellow bus.
Parkside Middle School is located in the historic Civil War Manassas area of Prince William County, 30 miles northeast of Washington, D.C. It is in a unique location and has no students who walk to school. The district has 31 school buses in service, but routes are one hour long, on a good day.
The district developed a program to encourage teachers who were interested in obtaining their commercial driver’s license (CDL). The program consists of all the initial training applicants need to obtain their license, but it would be conducted based on the teacher’s availability. This provides teachers with an opportunity to drive their route in the morning, teach throughout the day, and then drive their route in the afternoon.
The program was offered to teachers in November, and so far 10 teachers have applied to obtain their CDL. There are currently four teachers that drive out of Parkside Middle School. The training process was hosted by the transportation department. The program was started with 24 hours of classroom training that was run either after school or on weekends.
The teachers had an option to attend a four-hour class once a week for six weeks, or three eight-hour classes held on Saturdays. The second portion was taking a hands-on CPR training class, and then taking a four-part permit test at the DMV. Once the teachers received their permits, they had to fulfill about 24 hours of driver training that was scheduled for after-school hours.
The last part was completing a road test, and then driving with a behind-the-wheel trainer until it was determined that the applicant was ready to be on their own.
On top of getting paid their teacher salary, they receive an additional starting bus driver salary of $18.21 per hour.
This is a way that teachers can supplement their income during the year and can even use their CDL license in the summer to drive commercial vehicles.