Cuyahoga Falls -- The schools are looking for a few good drivers.
Cuyahoga Falls City School District is experiencing a shortage of bus drivers. According to Dr. Todd Nichols, the district's superintendent, the need is not just a local issue.
"A lack of drivers is epidemic across the state," Nichols said. "When I was in northwest Ohio earlier this month, the television news carried a similar story."
A Sept. 8 posting on the district's Facebook page asked residents to "bear with us" as officials deal with the shortage.
The posting also noted, "Our maintenance staff and transportation staff have stepped up to fill as many open spots as possible."
Cuyahoga Falls has 17 routes that are covered by full-time drivers, Nichols explained. There are currently four substitute drivers which, according to the superintendent, is the greatest need due to absences and illnesses of regular drivers and coverage of field trips and away games.
"With only four substitute drivers, we cannot cover all of our routes and trips," Nichols said. "Thus, we are in desperate need of eight additional substitute drivers If we have drivers who are ill, our maintenance staff, mechanics, and transportation administration are all called to the road which takes them from their normal positions."
Nichols said he anticipates hiring one full-time and four substitute drivers at the next School Board meeting Sept. 21. "Unfortunately, those individuals will not be ready to drive for several weeks due to the need to provide on-board instructor (OBI) training," he added.
Nichols said anyone who is interested can contact the school district's transportation office or its department of human resources. There is a specific process for individuals to earn their CDL to transport students, he said.
Cuyahoga Falls City Schools' website is at http://www.cfalls.org/.
Woodridge is ok, still taking applications
Woodridge Local School District, on the other hand, has a full slate of bus drivers.
"Right now, all of our driver positions are filled," said Woodridge Superintendent Walter Davis. "While we do have a small number of substitutes available, we can always use more, especially with the potential for the flu season coming soon."
Davis said overall, it is difficult to find qualified drivers because the job requires extensive training. "Therefore, when we have people who are interested, we can work with them to get them trained and licensed. For subs, it is especially difficult since they go through all of the training and then there is no guarantee that they will get sufficient hours as a substitute." Davis said typically when someone goes through all the training they look for full-time work, and he doesn't blame them.
"We have found that retirees who are looking for something part time make excellent substitutes," he noted. "Those who are interested can apply with us through our automated application system found on the district website."
Woodridge's website is at http://www.woodridge.k12.oh.us/.