LPSS special board meeting Wednesday to deal with bus driver shortage

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LAFAYETTE, La. (KLFY) – The Lafayette Parish School System is making an urgent plea for bus drivers because of a current shortage. The school district has called a Special Board Meeting for Wednesday, September 27 at 5:30 p.m.

LPSS Chief Administrative Officer Joe Craig says the board will be asked to approve increasing the pay scale for bus drivers, create a new position called School Bus Driver Intern and approve a pay incentive to discourage absenteeism.

LPSS School Administrators says school districts from far and near are struggling to attract and hire school bus drivers. “There’s a national need,” adds  Craig.

LPSS Transportation Director Damon Evans agrees. “Baton Rouge was 75 drivers short at one time. If I had 10 sub drivers, I would be liking life. I really would,” adds Evans.

Craig says at one time school bus driving was viewed as part-time work. Craig adds that’s not the case anymore. People are looking to drive on a full-time permanent basis. Craig explains that’s why the recommendation is for the LPSB to approve increasing the pay scale for drivers by $2,500. “So that we are more competitive with the other districts,” notes Craig.

If the board approves, the district also wants to offer bus drivers a pay incentive not to miss work. The agenda item explains that eligible bus drivers would be able to “cash out” up to two sick leave days, at the bus driver’s daily rate of pay, at the end of each semester that the bus driver has 2 or fewer absences. “If a driver uses a limited two or less days of sick leave we would pay that back to them,” says Craig.

The third recommendation is that the board approves the creation of a “School Bus Driver Intern” or a bus attendant to help the driver with students and emergencies. “When they get their CDL and endorsement we will hire them permanently,” adds Craig.

“They can apply online but I would rather talk to someone in-person. That means they’re really serious. I’m here in the office Monday through Friday basically from 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.,” says the Transportation Director.

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