HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) - Madison County Schools recently purchased 22 new buses to replace the oldest ones in the fleet, and successfully filled every bus driver position.
According to Jeff Malone, the Assistant Superintendent of System Services, school districts across the board generally struggle to maintain enough bus drivers and the pandemic did not help.
“We do have two positions that are filled with permanent subs but every bus has a driver assigned to it,” Malone said. “So with us having all of our positions filled, our students can get home in a more timely manner.”
Oftentimes, bus drivers in the district bounce back and forth between schools where staffing is limited, which creates longer routes. To fill the gaps, Malone said the district has had some recruitment campaigns and been more active about getting the word out.
Bus drivers are considered frontline essential workers and Malone said he is thankful so many have come out to help.
“We are always looking for bus drivers because even though we are in a good position now, there does seem to be somewhat of a turnaround for bus drivers,” Malone said. “So if we do have a bus driver that resigns or retires, we like to be able to have that pool of drivers that we can just instantly put in that place. But again, at this point we have done a really good job of recruiting the bus drivers and even maintaining them a little longer.”
At the start of virtual learning, Madison County Schools set up WIFI on 90 school buses, which were strategically placed throughout the county. The goal was to make sure all students could log on and do their coursework as they learned virtually.
According to Malone, the district is now discussing how many of those WIFI buses it wants to keep active.