Dallas Independent School District hosted a job fair for prospective bus drivers Thursday, hoping to combat massive shortages within its transportation department.
The clock is ticking on the district. It needs to hire more than 150 bus drivers in the next two weeks in order to ensure children can get to and from its schools. The district had previously retained the services of the Dallas County Schools bus agency to do the work for them, but voters gave the agency the boot after it lost $50 million dollars on a business venture for stop-arm cameras.
Dr. Kayne Smith, the director of DISD’s student transportation services, has been on the job five months, and he's trying to finish what's turned into his first big test.
He’s had to build the department from almost nothing.
"When I got here we had about four employees," Smith said.
While the district hired many of Dallas County School’s old employees, it wasn’t enough. Now, Smith is trying to find a way to make things work. He believes that he can.
“We are confident on August 20 the 35,000 students who utilize Dallas ISD transportation will get to school,” Smith said.
If the district can’t fill the 150 positrons and have each of the drivers obtain their commercial driver’s licenses, then Smith may have to improvise.
“A lot of us have our CDL's already, myself included,” he said. “I'm a certified school bus driver. If I need to go drive a route to get our kids to school, I will be out driving a bus.”
Thursday morning’s crowd was small, but enthusiastic.
“I'm looking for a better career opportunity,” applicant Monique Diggs said. “Something that has stability and growth.”
Those who were hired will work six hours a day for 185 days a year, making $16.63 per hour. They’ll also be eligible for full benefits, something that Smith points out other districts don’t offer.