AUSTINTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – The Austintown Local School District is looking to hire about 15 bus drivers by the beginning of the school year in order to get students to school faster.
The district is so eager to hire those bus drivers that it will even train them, for free. It takes around eight weeks to earn a commercial driver’s license (CDL).
“There is no out-of-pocket expense for that person. All the training is paid for,” said Austintown Schools Transportation Director Paula Lipke.
Those already with a CDL can start right away.
Lipke says the district has lost nine drivers from last year. They want to have more this school year to cut down on how long it takes to pick up the students and get them to class.
“We don’t like to do that and we’re trying to avoid that by hiring some new drivers, but it can happen,” she said.
“Daily interaction with kids — that, to me, is the best part of the job,” said bus driver Christopher Arnold.
Arnold is an on-site instructor for Austintown Schools. He says, as a driver, you are the face of the school district.
“You are the first contact in the day for families as well. So not only are you the community’s primary source of contact to the school district, you’re often the first contact they have on any school day,” he said.
Drivers start off at just over $16 an hour and are eligible for a raise after three months of zero safety violations. Applicants must be at least 18 years old and able to pass a drug and background test.
Arnold says the right person for the job will want to make a difference.
“You have to have it in your heart that you want to be a part of the community and a part of young people’s lives every day,” he said.
Lipke says parents shouldn’t worry if they don’t get all the drivers by the first day of school on Aug. 27, the children will still safely get to school but it may take longer.