D.C.-area school systems continue to look for more school bus drivers to fill out their fleets.
On Wednesday, Jan. 15, some of the largest school systems in the region — Prince George’s County in Maryland and Fairfax County in Virginia — are holding job fairs for bus drivers.
In Prince George’s County, the school system’s Director of Transportation Rudolph Saunders said recruitment continues throughout the school year.
“We’re kind of treading water in some ways,” Saunders said. “We’re hiring people — as many as possible — but we’re also losing people.”
Saunders said a tight job market and the expansion of businesses that offer delivery services make competition for drivers especially fierce. And, Saunders said, “The other school systems in the region are in the same boat, so there’s some competition there.”
The school system has 1,250 buses, but keeps about 100 in reserve in case of breakdowns or other maintenance problems; a little more than 1,100 school bus routes are served each day.
Saunders said Prince George’s County Public Schools has between 900 and 1,000 drivers on staff, but ideally, they’d have 175 more. Having that number would give the school system a cushion — “especially during flu season,” Saunders said, when the absentee rate can reach 10%.
One part of the training that’s different from any other commercial driving job: managing students on the bus.
Saunders puts it this way: “Sometimes, we have had students demonstrate certain behaviors that may present a challenge.”
The training is designed to help drivers navigate those situations.
On the positive side, Saunders said, the response to the latest announcement of a job fair was so great that the school system moved the event from a smaller administrative office to the Dr. Henry A. Wise Jr. High School in Upper Marlboro.
The Prince George’s County job fair is scheduled there for Wednesday from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Fairfax County Public Schools is also looking for more drivers. According to the latest figures from the office of communications, the school system was looking for an additional 80 drivers.
The Fairfax County job fair for bus drivers is also on Wednesday, from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. at the Gerry Hyland Government Center near Mt. Vernon.
Editor’s note: This story has been updated to correct the location of the Prince George’s County, Maryland, job fair.