Northland News

Looking for bus drivers

District is regrouping after job fair attracts only seven people

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Ben Grace, of Columbus, speaks to prospective job applicants about driving a school bus during Columbus City Schools' Transportation Expo and Job Fair April 30 at Northland High School in Columbus. Grace, an on-board instructor for nine years, will begin training new drivers this summer.

Human resources personnel with Columbus City Schools were hoping as many as 150 people might turn out for last week's first Transportation Expo and Job Fair at Northland High School.

Seven people showed up.

"It was a rather disappointing turnout," admitted Jeff Warner, communications director for the district.

Fortunately, he said, the summer months are still ahead, during which time school bus drivers and substitute drivers can be recruited. In particular, Transportation Department personnel are looking to swell the ranks of substitute drivers, according to the announcement of the April 30 event at Northland.

"There is a real need for us to have those substitute bus drivers," Warner said.

"We tried to use more of a communications approach than a recruitment approach," he said. "We're going to look at things like Craigslist and and things like that to be much more focused. The challenge that we have is we don't have much money for advertising.

"We're going to regroup."

Both regular and substitute drivers must be at least 25 years old and must have valid driver's licenses and a good driving record, meaning no more than four points for violations within the previous two years. Both must also at the time of applying have completed the eighth grade and been driving for at least five years.

Bus driver trainees receive a starting pay rate of $11 an hour, which increases after training is completed.

Substitute drivers, with a starting wage of $15.67 an hour, must possess a valid commercial driver's license with school bus passenger endorsement and air brake qualification, along with a certificate demonstrating completion of the Ohio Pre-Service Driver Training issued by the Ohio Department of Education.

Some of the seven people who went to last week's job fair could "definitely" become drivers or substitute drivers, Warner said, but the district needs at least 100 substitutes, so more will have to be found -- and obviously, through a different approach.

"That's why you do new things, so you can learn," he added. "That's what education is all about."

According to an announcement about the April 30 expo and job fair, potential CCS bus drivers are "subject to a criminal history record check, work history/personal background check, and are required to undergo drug and alcohol testing before being hired.

"A driver must also pass an annual physical examination. Columbus City Schools will help provide training for obtaining a (commercial driver's license) and the required 12-hour bus driver certification course."

More information is available by calling the CCS Transportation Department at 614-365-5074 or the Human Resources Department at 614-365-5000. Information is also available under the human resources/employment link on the district's website.