The Hall County Board of Education is looking at how to entice current teachers and coaches in the system to earn their commercial driver’s license.
“We’ve been having a great deal of trouble getting enough substitute (bus drivers) to man the routes that we need to man during the busy times of the year with other trips, (like) athletic trips and academic trips and so forth,” said Deputy Superintendent Lee Lovett.
According to Lovett, roughly 20 percent of people the school system trains actually follow through with the program. Many other job opportunities open up once a person receives a CDL, he said.
Transportation Director Jewel Armour said 54 people have been trained since May, with around 14 completing training and currently working for the school system.
“So, we want to make it appeal to teachers and coaches of these academic teams and athletic teams to get CDL licenses, and to pay them a training supplement as we pay a regular bus driver to do,” Lovett said. “Then we can pay them field-trip mileage for driving their teams, so as to make it a little more appealing to them.”
A $350 training bonus, spread out over intervals, is currently paid to trainees. Many don’t finish the program, according to Armour, not even taking the CDL exam.
Training for a commercial driver’s license is a fairly involved process. Along with the traditional application and interview with the school system, classroom training takes around 12 hours over two days, along with multiple driving hours, four written tests, a physical exam and the actual driving test.
Additional training and requirements must be met, including passing drug and alcohol screenings.
Field-trip bonuses begin at $32, with extra tacked on if the trip lasts more than three hours. Board member Bill Thompson suggested raising that bonus to begin at $50, to make it “worth their while.”
The school board will look at these financial incentives at a future meeting.
“We’d rather train people in our schools,” Superintendent Will Schofield said. “We can have a stable of our own people within our middle and high schools, that when we need a driver for a track meet and it’s 3 o’clock in the afternoon, the principal has some folks he can call upon.”