Re-2 schools short on bus drivers
August 23, 2006
RIFLE – Bus drivers are in demand in Garfield School District Re-2. The district is about 10 drivers short and has everyone on board pitching in to help out. The district currently has about 30 employees driving morning and afternoon shifts, for 28 routes. However, the driver list now includes three mechanics, two route-specific drivers for disabled students, and the transportation department director, Sanja Morgan, as well. “My entire staff has been driving,” Morgan said. “That is the only way that we could start school. We truly need about 10 people to bring us to a comfortable zone.”The school district lost a number of drivers after school ended last spring because of the abundance of opportunities to drive for the oil and gas companies in the area.”The transportation department is doing an excellent job of maintaining the highest quality of service for the students,” said Theresa Hamilton, director of districtwide services for Re-2. “Our situation is in such competition with the oil and gas industry for people with commercial licenses,” Morgan said. That is the main reason, in her opinion, that the school district has seen such a shortage of applicants this year. “We will do our best to offer the same quality of service that we have always had,” Morgan said. “Little by little, we’re going to recover.” The neighboring Roaring Fork School District Re-1 currently has only one full-time route in Glenwood Springs open, and a part-time afternoon route open in Basalt. However, the school district does have applicants for those positions, said Carol Burns, Re-1 transportation director. “Luckily we’ve had enough drivers to fill all the positions,” Burns said. “But all school districts are constantly looking for substitute drivers to help out.” Re-1 currently employs 80 drivers for school routes, including Yampah and Carbondale Community School, as well as substitute and trip drivers. Thirty-five are full-time drivers for the district. Part of the problem, according to Morgan, is the bus depot in Rifle is the only one for the district. The Re-1 district has bus barns in Glenwood, Basalt and Carbondale.Drivers have to go to Rifle to pick up buses and then back before going home again in the evening. So, someone who lives in New Castle would have to make four trips back and forth in a single day. That discourages some from wanting the position, Morgan said. With the upcoming sports season upon us and the need for teams traveling to away games, “We will be in a tough position if we don’t have the extra help,” Morgan said. “We are going to do the best we can.”Currently, the school district has seven open routes. It offers training and will pay for drivers without a commercial license to become certified.For now, they will just keep the ball rolling.