Dallas ISD looking to hire more bus drivers to fill shortage

Dallas school leaders hope a weekend job fair will help them fill nearly 100 open bus driver positions.

The Dallas Independent School District is running into problems as it begins busing its students to schools this year. For years, the district has relied on another organization for bus services.

The district said it doesn’t yet have enough bus drivers. Apparently, enough people applied for the job and were processed. But some didn’t actually show up for work on the first day.

This is the first year the district has its own transportation system. Last year, residents voted to dissolve Dallas County Schools, the troubled agency that handled transportation services for several districts in the county. Now it’s up to Dallas ISD to hire more drivers.

“We are about 100 drivers short,” said Felicia Harris, Dallas ISD’s director of Student Transportation Services. “What we have seen is just a complete shortage of drivers, not only just here within Dallas ISD but within the state of Texas.”

Harris admitted the shortage has affected the district’s ability to pick students up on time.

“You know, sure. We have had some routes that have been late,” she said.

Veronica Vasquez says it's been a rocky start for her eighth grade son and sixth grade daughter.

“The first day of school, the bus was 45 minutes late to pick them up and bring them to Stockard Middle School,” she said.

Vasquez says the lack of reliable bus transportation has left her scrambling to make other arrangements. She's also concerned about late arriving students missing breakfast at school and students waiting outside in the heat after school.

“It's not only my children that I see as I'm pulling up standing out here waiting for someone to pick them up, but it's a lot of other children,” she said.

To fix the problem, Dallas ISD is hosting a job fair on Saturday. Those who are interested need to have at least a regular Class C license.

“If you are going to come in and be one of our CDL drivers, hopefully, you will come in with the CDL ready to go,” Harris said. “But if not, we have a training program for those that are trying to obtain their CDL.”

The district says its biggest challenges are at choice schools like magnets and charter schools, which can attract students from all over.

A spokesman says it's trying to cover the shortage. But until people can be hired, it's tricky and is forcing them to adjust and consolidate routes. It’s unclear why several newly-hired drivers were no shows.

“I believe some of them went and worked for other school districts,” said Scott Layne with Dallas ISD. “Bear in mind, there were eight other school districts that either started their bus service this year or hired another company. And those companies are recruiting drivers as well.”

Until more drivers can be hired, Dallas ISD is asking parents for patience as they work through the issues.

The job fair on Saturday will run from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Leonard Center at 5151 Samuell Boulevard. The district pays bus drivers $16.63 per hour. More info can be found here.

For more information or to report a school bus problem, call 972-925-4953.