Behind the wheel: CCISD still experiencing bus driver shortfall

Posted at 5:48 PM, Aug 05, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-05 18:48:33-04

CORPUS CHRISTI — CCISD still needs a couple dozen bus drivers to cover all the routes for the new school year. That number is down from the 50 vacancies earlier this summer, but it's still a significant shortfall.

Even if the district fills all the positions they have open today, all those drivers still need to be trained, and that training takes up to six weeks. But even if everyone passes their training, the district still needs about 25 more bus drivers.

Kyle Pelichet, the director of transportation at CCISD, and other staff have had to pick up routes in years past. They can expect do to that again when the new school year starts.

But if every position was filled, "it frees up myself, my office staff, my operations specialist, and it allows us to get back to our day-to day-jobs doing that work," said Pelichet.

The district began losing employees about five years ago, because many were getting better paying jobs working as transportation drivers for oil fields.

"It's an industry wide shortage, nationally school bus drivers, in particular with their CDL licensing, they're taking on other jobs in the industry that require commercial licenses," said Pelichet.

Districts like CCISD are also competing against nearby school districts, especially ones that pay better. For example, Calallen bus drivers start out making $18 an hour, and their drivers are paid year-round.

"That is rather a hefty wage for a bus driver in our area particularly," said Pelichet.

In an effort to retain bus drivers, two years ago, CCISD increased the starting pay from $11.78 $15 an hour. Now they're also offering a $1,000 sign-on bonus, but they don't pay all their drivers year round.

Flour Bluff ISD is also looking for bus drivers. They have ten openings. The district has also increased their starting pay from $14 an hour, to $15

A spokesperson for FBISD did mention if those positions are not filled by the start of the school year, their maintenance staff will have to pick up routes.