They’re the first person your child sees when they board the school bus.
What You Need To Know
- Lake County Schools says it's in need of almost twice as many bus drivers as normal
- High summer school enrollment is creating the demand, according to the district
- The district will hold three job fairs instead of one this year; the next one is July 24
Kevin McCray was one of those people applying to be a school bus driver Monday.
“I remember being on the bus and loving the bus driver and everything. His name was Mr. King,” McCray said.
McCray has 19 years of driving experience in concrete mixers and dump trucks. After spending the pandemic at home caring for his children, he’s looking to make the switch to driving a school bus.
“I’m very comfortable behind the wheel. I just really like driving, it’s stress-relieving,” McCray said.
Lake County Schools needs to hire 22 drivers. Normally, it's only looking for 12 to 15.
“It’s absolutely a necessary position, and I think unfortunately, the pandemic has made the situation a little bit worse,” said Quiana Peterson, the Instructional Recruitment Partner for Lake County Schools.
Usually, the district holds one hiring event. This year, there will be three, and the new drivers will have a chance to get rolling right away because high enrollment for summer school is creating a greater need.
“We have opportunities over the summer. So I actually think it’s a good transition before the school year starts for them to get their feet wet,” Peterson said.
Because the need for school bus drivers is so great this year, the district added a virtual hiring element for the first time to make things a little easier and more accessible.
“Someone might be in Umatilla, but maybe can’t commute here just for the job fair,” Peterson said. “So we wanted to make sure that we weren’t missing people who might be in other parts of the area.”
Peterson said she's concerned the district won’t be able to fill all the openings.
“It just means we’re going to have to roll up our sleeves and get real creative, but we’ll make sure kids get to their school,” she said.
McCray and his family hope things work out.
“My daughter is super excited I’m going to be driving a bus. She thinks I’m going to be her bus driver, and she wants to sit behind me on the bus,” McCray said.
Drivers and substitutes are needed at all five bus lots in Lake County. The district will cover the cost of training and getting a commercial driver’s license.
The next districtwide job fair will be on July 24.