In a rare move, a part-time bus driver position for Gainesville City Schools will be converted to a full-time position with benefits.
According to Gainesville transportation director Jerry Castleberry, the system has eight established special education bus routes and two morning-only special education bus routes. An additional bus driver is needed for these routes to cover absences and early field trips, among other duties.
Castleberry added, with the growth in the Mundy Mill and Maple Park areas, bus requests are constantly and steadily increasing, thus increasing the need for another full-time driver.
Part-time drivers work four days per week and do not drive for field trips.
The need for bus drivers is a common trend today, according to Castleberry, but the system has a preference for incrementally hiring new drivers.
“There is a shortage throughout the state, throughout the nation really,” Castleberry said.
The part-time position in question was recently vacated by a retiring driver.
The system will be working with its social workers this year to only allow Gainesville City Schools’ students who are eligible for transportation are on the school buses each day, ensuring the growth is not exacerbated.
Superintendent Wanda Creel commended Castleberry and his team, who’ve dealt with the system’s growth and accommodated students who need and are eligible for transportation.
“I think Jerry and the transportation department should be commended for the fact that we have a position that will be turned into a full-time position,” Creel said. “That Jerry somehow miraculously keeps all of this working, I just want to publicly thank him for all the hard work he does.”