YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Education is important for children, but the first job involves getting them to school on time and safely.
A school bus driver may work part-time hours, but they have full-time responsibility, and the driver is the first person a student will likely interact with.
“It’s a constant face. They know they’re safe with the same person every day making sure they get to school,” said Niles School Bus Driver Lisa Davis.
There has been a big need for school bus drivers this year.
Dave Calderone has been behind the wheel for eight years. He said it takes a patient person to be a bus driver.
“If you’re not patient, it’s not your job ’cause you have 100 different kids a day, 100 different personalities,” he said.
Lisa Davis added, “There’s a lot of kids who like to ask questions. You hear your name repeated 50 times within two minutes. You need to expect that.”
Drivers work four hours a day, split between 2 hours in the morning and 2 hours again in the afternoon. But, the job can include full-time benefits as well as time off during school holidays.
Drivers say the most important aspect of the job is making sure the kids on-board are safe.
“It’s a lot of distractions. Gotta watch the road; gotta watch the kids at all times,” Davis said.
The backward facing mirror inside the bus is something the drivers are monitoring, but cameras inside the bus record what the students are doing so discipline is handled by the school district.
Drivers need a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) with a school bus endorsement. Hand signals, lights, even opening and closing the door — all of that is covered during training that takes about six weeks. State certification classes are run by the Highway Patrol.
School districts may handle the training, in exchange for promising to drive within the district.
Drivers can add hours for field trips or taking students to sports games or other extra curricular events.
Schools have staggered start times, so bus drivers will likely have routes involving students of all ages.
The median pay for a bus driver in Youngstown is around $29,000.
For more information on available bus driver jobs and training, go to OhioMeansJobs.com.