School bus drivers urgently needed

NISD needs 60 drivers

SAN ANTONIO – A little more than one week before school starts, schools districts are scrambling to find people to drive the buses.

In the Northside Independent School District, where nearly half of the 104,000 students take the bus, the need is critical.

"This summer we hired about 100 drivers, and we're still looking at about 60 more that we need," said Daniel Gonzalez, an assistant station manager with NISD's Transportation Department.

So, who will drive the buses come school time?

"Basically, I'm going to drive," Gonzalez said, adding that other qualified managers will drive a bus, too.

"They (students) will get to school," he said.

It's not just NISD. Several are desperately seeking drivers. San Antonio ISD still needs 11 drivers and East Central ISD posted a red letter notice on its website.

Where did all the drivers go?

"We're losing them to the oil fields," said Gonzalez.

The Eagle Ford shale boom continues to siphon the school bus driver pool. Many drivers who also have a commercial license are being lured to the more lucrative, albeit demanding, truck driving jobs.

"Been there, done that," said NISD driver Alfonso Martinez. After driving a VIA bus for 32 years, he retired and took on a school bus route.

"I enjoy people," he said. "I feel like I'm back in school again, because I get spring break, a week for Thanksgiving, two weeks at Christmas and a month and a half for summer."

Starting pay for NISD drivers is $12.64 an hour with an increase to $12.89 after six months. Full-time and part-time postitions include medical, dental and retirement benefits.

Those that do not have the proper license and endorsements to carry passengers, will be trained.

Applicants must be at least 21 years old, pass a background check and have a good driving record.


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