PEA RIDGE – “It’s a great part-time job,” said Cameron McNabb, director of facilities and transportation, of school bus drivers.
The Pea Ridge School District currently has two positions open for school bus drivers – a special education route and a rural route.
“We are always on the lookout for replacements and travel drivers,” McNabb said.
“One of the things we can’t get is people willing to take trips at night,” he said.
“It’s extra income – always has been,” he said. “It’s cheap insurance.”
“It’s half past one in the morning and again in the afternoon,” he said.
Driving hours on a route are 6:15 am to 8 am in the morning and 3 pm to 4:45 pm in the afternoon. That’s a great job for semi-retirees and farmers, McNabb said.
“The first driver leaves here at around 6:15 am and drives to Gateway,” he said. “The last one leaves around 7 a.m.
“Pea Ridge Schools will train bus drivers whether they wish to drive a route, replace only, or drive routes. Having licensed and qualified drivers in our community helps ensure that we can provide transportation to our clients.
“Pea Ridge is currently in a rare position to have an adequate amount of equipment but, in a strange twist like every district, we don’t have enough qualified drivers,” he said.
A bus driver is hired for 179 paid driving days over 24 pay periods (every two weeks), starting at $ 11,844.13 with annual increases, according to McNabb. He said the salary is additional salary that “often will not affect retirement or other benefits.”
Bus drivers receive all of the benefits of a public school employee, including paid sick leave, personal time off, summers with continuous pay, the Arkansas teacher retirement system after five years of service, health insurance, life insurance and disability insurance.
The license qualifications are a Class B commercial driver’s license with a Passenger endorsement and a School bus endorsement. Pilots must be qualified for air brakes and pass a physical exam. Drivers must be at least 21 years old and able to pass a background check without being convicted of felony or child abuse.
McNabb said the district would help train those interested in the CDL and reimburse the costs of the test once it is successful. He said the district would also pay for the required physical exams.
He said the buses are more stable than a 15-passenger van and are similar to driving a large recreational vehicle. “There is better visibility,” he said, noting that the driver is seated high looking at the corners of the bus. He said there are seven mirrors on each bus and there are cameras that show behavior and activity on the bus.
“I would love to have people with school-aged children; they could load them up and take them home,” he said, adding that parents of athletes would be great bus drivers for the kids. sporting events outside the city. “They could drive the bus, watch their kid’s game, drive back and get paid for it.”
“There is a great camaraderie between the pilots,” said McNabb. “They arrive early and sit and talk before and after their route.”
Annette Beard can be contacted by email at [email protected]