ASD still down 64 school bus drivers despite recent applicants

ASD still down 64 school bus drivers despite recent applicants
Published: Aug. 30, 2022 at 5:20 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - As of Tuesday morning the Anchorage School District was still short 64 school bus drivers.

However, district Spokesperson Lisa Miller said recent applicants for the job could mean the end of route suspensions by the end of October.

ASD Superintendent Jharrett Bryantt announced in early August that the district was short 75 bus drivers. The number of drivers the district is short has dwindled as new drivers begin training and the district expects previously trained drivers to return behind the wheel of school buses.

As a result, Bryantt announced that the district would split the students eligible for bus transportation up into three groups, providing buses for one group at a time — and up to six continuous weeks without available busing for others.

According to the district, there are currently 19 people in the interviewing stage, 23 in training, and 12 who’ve driven previously for the district and indicated they’ll return to their jobs on September 19.

“We have had a great turnout of people that have come in to take the class, a lot of people are telling us that they are just interested in really helping out,” said ASD Transportation Director Heather Philp.

Philp said that not everyone who applies for the job will be accepted, so they are still encouraging people to apply. She added that learning to drive a bus is just one part of the job.

“What we really look for when we are interviewing and when we are talking to people about being a school bus driver, is the ability to understand young people, to be able to work with young people, have the patience and understanding that you are impacting lives every morning, every afternoon,” Philp said.

The district will pay for the training required to get a commercial driver’s license with an endorsement to be a school bus driver. Philp said the training generally takes about three weeks, including 20 hours in the classroom and 20 hours behind the wheel. She said the job also requires a background check, drug test, and physical.

Philp said the current pay for new drivers with ASD is $20.68 per hour with a signing bonus up to $2,500 over the first semester for new and current drivers.

Reliant Transportation, which also provides transportation for Anchorage students, is paying $22 per hour with a signing bonus for new drivers only of $2,400.

People who are interested can apply online at the ASD website.