With a new bus barn and updated facilities, Clarke Community Schools has been reviewing and evaluating the need for bus drivers for the 2020-2021 school year. As in years past, route drivers are in short supply all over the state.
Ed Stoll, Clarke’s incoming Transportation Director, decided early to make the call to district family members and the community for help.
“If we can get a few more route drivers before the start of school,” said Stoll. “Meeting the needs for transporting our kids to and from school and events will be less of a concern for the district.”
With the previous school year’s shortage of qualified drivers rolling into the 2019-2020 school year, staff and administrators worked diligently to cover or combine yellow bus routes to make sure Clarke students had safe, timely access to and from school. Administrators knew the efforts being made wouldn’t fully make up for the shortage. One absence or the loss of a full-time route driver or event driver would mean taking emergency measures to make sure children had a way to and from school and events.
“We know driver shortages are a national issue,” said Steve Seid, Clarke Community Schools Superintendent. “But we’ve seen the Clarke family come together to help the kids in situations like this before. All it takes is one or two committed community members to answer the call to help our kids.”
WHAT CAN YOU DO TO HELP?
With over 21 driver positions, including 15 yellow bus routes, five special needs and handicap routes, specialty transportation routes, as well as a hand full of substitute driver positions, the district finds itself struggling to meet the needs for all routes.
Immediate needs would be for at least three yellow bus full-route drivers. These drivers would drive the large yellow buses through the Clarke district for pick-up and drop-off of the students on a daily basis – morning and afternoon shifts. They would also have opportunities to drive the kids for extracurricular events like sports, band, and field trips.
Clarke yellow bus route drivers contracted for the 2020-2021 school year are paid $88.64/day – driving, on average, 1.5 hours in the morning and 1.5 hours in the afternoon. With special events and other transportation needs, a flexible schedule would be an advantage for applicants. Staff route drivers are provided 2 personal days off per year as well as the ability to accumulate sick days. As a Clarke School District employee, contracted drivers are also able to take advantage of the school’s IPERS retirement investment opportunities.
Qualified drivers will need to have a CDL license and an approved medical certificate – or be able to get them before the beginning of the school year. Other standard requirements for district drivers include:
- a driving test (as part of the CDL certification)
- a criminal background check,
- a drug screen, as well as periodic drug testing after hired,
- clear driving record and
- clean driving insurance.
“This is a really good opportunity for retirees or family members with some time on their hands to make some extra money,” said Rick Perin, outgoing Clarke Transportation Manager. “In some cases we can even split morning and afternoon driving routes to accommodate schedules.”
The shortage of qualified drivers, while not isolated to Clarke’s district, has become a priority for all districts. This impacts not only the schedules and efficiency of the transportation department, but also the safety and security of the kids. Vacancies in the transportation department often require pulling teachers from classes or asking coaches to fill in on routes or special events, sometimes even staggering scheduling for start and end times for students which passes the inconvenience on to home schedules and extracurricular activities.
If you or someone you know would like to apply for the driver positions available at Clarke Community Schools, you can pick up a hard-copy application in the main district office at 802 N Jackson St, Osceola, IA 50213. An online application can be submitted through www.TeachIowa.gov