The national shortage of bus drivers is now being felt in Tyler ISD.

The district is looking for those with a Class B driver’s license to join the school district as school bus drivers.

“In the past, I’ve had to drive a lot of different routes,” said bus driver and dispatch leader Dwain Hare. “There’s been some shifting around. Some routes have to help others.”

The shortage has gotten so significant that bus mechanics are now doubling as drivers.

“That’s not a good thing because they have a lot of needs here and we have so many buses,” Hare said. “We want them in here in the shop repairing our vehicles and we don’t want them to have to drive.”

Right now, the Tyler ISD has about 170 bus drivers. However, there are presently 20 openings for drivers, and at the beginning of 2020 there will be 23 openings. Those starting the job with Tyler ISD will receive free training from the district.

Bus driver Karen Suell says she strongly suggests that people look into the job.

“I like the flexibility, I like the holiday time, and the pay is good,” Suell said.

About one-third of the drivers working for the district are retirees who drive buses for extra income. Each driver is guaranteed at least four hours of work a day and guaranteed holidays off.

“It’s a wonderful job to have if you’re a retiree,” Hare said. “You get a lot of breaks during the year; you get a week off at spring break, a week off at Thanksgiving and two weeks off at Christmas.”

According to the school district, drivers’ morning pickup shifts are between 5:15 a.m. and 6:30 a.m., and drop-off is around 2:30 to 4:45 p.m.

Both drivers stress that the job doesn’t just include the work of a driver, but of a guardian.

“I take the same care and concern for those children as I would my own children and grandchildren,” Suell said. “Being a bus driver, you almost have to be a counselor, you’re their advocate. You want to provide total safety.”

For those interested in applying for the position, visit tylerisd.org and click on “Employment” at the bottom of the page.

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Digital Multimedia Journalist

Ben Fenton is a digital multimedia journalist that has worked at the Tyler Morning Telegraph since 2019. He is from Lindale, Texas and holds a Bachelors in Digital Media and a Masters in Communication.