The Carroll County School District, like many districts are seeing a shortage in bus drivers. Right now, the district’s transportation director Dewitt Cobbins is substituting as a driver.
Superintendent Jim Ray said the district advertised for bus drivers and two were selected. However, neither of them worked out.
“Neither worked out?” Board member John Phillips said. Ray said no, but he didn’t go into detail as to why.
The discussion came up after one driver submitted her resignation.
Ray said Cobbins was able to convince her to keep driving at least until the end of the year.
“I don’t know what he did, he may have gotten on his knees and begged but he convinced her to stay,” he said. “I’m sure you all know what all Dewitt does, but I’m learning. He’s a big help for the district and he makes a lot of sacrifices for us. We’re lucky to have him.”
The board, and many in the room, agreed with Ray.
Cobbins said right now, the district has no substitute bus drivers.
He said he and another worker at the bus shop have to drive buses, and there’s no one at the shop if something were to happen.
“I’m on call right now, too,” Ray said. He said coaches in the district are also helping to drive buses as well.
He said it wasn’t just the district having this problem, it was a problem in every district.
“I saw in the paper that Winona was advertising for bus drivers, too,” Board member Bill Downs said.
“So, what’s the problem? Are we not paying them enough?” Phillips asked.
Ray said the district’s rates were some of the most competitive. He said the district pays their drivers more than some of the districts in the area.
“I’m not sure about the big schools, but we do pay well,” he said. “So, I don’t think that’s the problem. I think it’s the hours.”
Board president Donnie Wiltshire said when he lived in DeSoto County, he drove buses. He said districts like DeSoto may pay more, but the bus routes are much shorter. Carroll County’s routes can take up to two hours.
The county lines stretch to Winona, Greenwood, Holcomb, West, and near Lexington and the routes are longer.
Ray said the problem is bus drivers work two hours in the morning and two hours in the afternoon. They would only make 20 hours a week. He said for a retiree, it would be fine, but for a younger person trying to make it or raise their family, it could be a problem.
“Maybe we can find them some work for them to do at the bus shop for a few hours,” Wiltshire said, suggesting the added hours may help the district find more drivers.
Ray said that it was something the district could look into doing.