Wood County Schools recruiting bus drivers

Hiring event Sept. 15 at Erickson All-Sports Facility

A Wood County Schools bus driver pulls past a row of school buses Wednesday near the Transportation Department’s bus garage on 19th Street in Parkersburg. The department will be holding a recruitment drive Sept. 15 to hire substitute bus drivers. Training will be provided, and the district hires full-time drivers from the substitute roster. (Photo by Michael Erb)

PARKERSBURG — Wood County Schools Transportation Department will hold open tryouts for bus operators Sept. 15 at Erickson All-Sports Facility.

The event runs from 9 a.m. to noon and will give those interested a chance to drive a school bus in the Erickson parking lot. Applications can be filled out and submitted the same day.

Richard Lance, director of transportation for Wood County Schools, said school systems are facing a nationwide shortage of qualified bus drivers.

“This year we started the school year down eight positions” due to retirements and medical leave, Lance said. “We had enough, barely enough, substitutes to cover our 89 routes.”

The Sept. 15 event will give potential applicants a hands-on opportunity to learn about the job.

“It gives them a good chance to get the feel of the bus and for us to answer any questions they may have,” Lance said.

A person wishing to apply for a substitute bus driver position has to be at least 21 years of age and have a valid driver’s license and a clean driving record. The substitute bus roster could lead to a full-time position with Wood County Schools, Lance said.

“We hire off of that substitute driver list for our full-time drivers,” he said. “It used to be we’d tell people it might take two-and-a-half to three years (to move from substitute to a full-time position). Now it is about a year to a year-and-a-half. We can keep you as busy as you want as a substitute driver.”

Regina Graham, a secretary/accountant for the transportation department, also is a certified trainer for the state, and said the district will offer in-house training for applicants to receive their operator’s license. Those who complete the training will have a Class B CDL, including passenger, school bus and air break endorsement.

Lance said receiving CDL training from a school could cost $3,000-$4,000, but it costs about $250 for the on-site training, most of which is reimbursed after the first year of employment.

“We’re just looking for good people,” he said. “Wood County Schools is a great place to work. We have good benefits. It is a good work environment.”

For more information, call the Wood County Schools Transportation Department at 1-304-420-9636.

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