Wanted: Bus drivers

School districts in the valley are having a problem with finding bus drivers. Whether it is a driver for a route or a substitute, drivers are becoming scarce.

Several factors play into the shortage these schools are suffering.

“Training money in our district (is a problem),” said Bill Riesbeck, the transportation supervisor at Martin Ferry school district. “There are big cost factors for just a little bit.”

Many of the problems that Riesbeck has seen is the hours, pay and benefits. The bus routes in Ferry began at 5:30 a.m., once the kids on these routes are picked up and dropped off, the driver must then seven hours until the afternoon run begins.

“We pay $14 but most of the benefits have been taken away,” said Riesbeck.

For someone to a school bus driver, he or she must complete the training to be certified. He or she must have a CDL or a commercial drivers licenses along with 12 hours of training on how to operate the bus.

Union Local has been struggling to find drivers for some time, right now the supervisor of transportation, Bill West, a maintenance man and bus mechanic have been taking on routes.

“We’ve been struggling with the need for bus drivers,” said West. “We have lost drivers to the oil and gas industry.”

As of right now, Switzerland of Ohio School District is struggling to find substitute drivers. St. Clairsville schools have two routes that they can not find drivers to fill.

“Most districts are struggling, we are holding on to route drivers,” said Larry Elliot, Switzerland of Ohio superintendent.

Van Dyne can be reached at kvandyne@timesleaderonline.com.