CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — CCISD still needs a couple of dozen bus drivers.to cover all the routes for the new school year.
That’s down from the 50 vacancies earlier this summer, but it's still a significant shortfall.
There’s a good chance the district will have some fill-in drivers when the year starts.
And even if the district fills all the positions they have open today, all those drivers still need to be trained.
That training takes up to six weeks.
But even if everyone passes their training, the district still needs about 25 more bus drivers.
“Every one driver helps, every single one,” said Kyle Pelichet, CCISD’s director of transportation.
In past years, Pelichet and other staff have had to pick up routes because they didn’t have enough bus drivers.
They can expect to do that again when the new school year starts.
But every position that’s 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,” Pelichet said.
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."
District like CCISD are also competing against nearby school districts, especially districts that pay better.
For example, Calalen bus drivers start out making $18 an hour.
And their drivers get paid year-round.
“That is rather a hefty wage for a bus driver in our area particularly," he said.
Iin an effort to retain bus drivers two years ago. CCISD increased starting pay from $11.78 to $15 per hour.
And 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.
It has 10 openings.
The district has also increased their starting pay from $14 to $15 per hour.
A spokesperson for the district said if those positions are not filled by the start of the school year, their maintenance staff will have to pick up driving those routes.