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Local districts seek bus drivers for upcoming school year

The Fort Zumwalt and Francis Howell school districts are experiencing bus driver shortages as the pandemic is winding down. As a majority of the district’s students are already vaccinated or soon to be vaccinated, the need for drivers will increase as students start riding the buses to and from school again this fall. 

Fort Zumwalt Superintendent Dr. Bernard DuBray said the situation is not extremely dire; however, during the past year, there were times when district mechanics and office staff had to step in to drive buses and cover routes, field trips, or after school events/sports. But DuBray predicts things will get better for the coming school year. 

Earlier in May, Gov. Mike Parson announced that Missouri will no longer participate in all federal pandemic related unemployment benefits as of 11:59 p.m. on Saturday, June 12. DuBray believes this will lead to more people seeking jobs this summer. 

“I think it will get better. The unemployment benefits that were very good kept a lot of people out of work. Those benefits however (are ending) now in Missouri. The pool will get better as far as recruiting compared to what it was this past year,” said DuBray. 

 Basic requirements to become a driver in the district include a commercial driver’s license (CDL), a clean driving record and a yearly physical. 

Drivers receive medical, vision, dental and life insurance. Split shifts (morning and afternoon) provide guaranteed hours each week.

Francis Howell School Bus
(Source: Francis Howell School District)

Francis Howell’s Transportation Director Jennifer Simpson noted that the district is experiencing a slight driver shortage; however, she said she is not worried. There are 10 full-time openings that need to be filled by August. The district also hires substitute drivers year-round who have flexible schedules or other jobs. “That is a very flexible position, they get paid for the hours they work. They are able to let us know their availability and we work around that. A lot of people do that in conjunction with another job. The substitute drivers help a lot with not only covering routes, but field trips as well,” said Simpson. 

Qualifications for Francis Howell drivers include a high school diploma or GED, a class B CDL and a clean driving record. Candidates must also pass an annual physical and dexterity test, and be at least 21 years old. Francis Howell offers driving lessons to obtain a CDL for those who don’t yet have one or have no experience driving commercially. The district transportation department also offers bus driving practice sessions in its designated lot. 

Meeting the qualifications is a large part of applying for the job, but being a bus driver requires much more than just driving students to and from school. Drivers are responsible for the students’ safety, often in inclement weather, as well as their comfort and well-being while on the bus. 

“It is encouraged that potential drivers love children, have good communication skills, are cautious drivers, are flexible with schedule changes, and can perform in a professional manner to represent the district well,” said Simpson. 

Benefits offered to Francis Howell drivers include a guaranteed 25-hour work week, health insurance, paid holidays and a retirement plan. 

For those interested in a student transportation career within the Wentzville School District, the  transportation department, located at 100 Logistics Center Drive, will be hosting “Drive the Bus”, a hiring and recruitment information session starting at 9 a.m. on both June 18 and 19. Participants will be able to drive a bus through a closed course, accompanied by a trainer. On-the-spot interviews will be held for those interested. Participants must be 21 years of age and have a current driver’s license. 

Applicants must RSVP by Wednesday, June 16. Visit wentzville.k12.mo.us/Page/9853 to RSVP or contact Jeff Gates at (636) 327-3860 or by email at jeffreygates@wsdr4.org. Additional information regarding this event will be posted on the WSD Facebook and Twitter accounts. 

To apply for a position in Fort Zumwalt, visit “Work for FZSD” at fz.k12.mo.us. 

To apply for a position in Francis Howell, visit the “Human Resources” tab at fhsdschools.org. 

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