Area districts searching hard to find school bus drivers

Posted at 7:08 PM, Aug 29, 2014
and last updated 2014-08-29 21:09:04-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- There have been plenty of signs advertising for school bus drivers in Richmond, Henrico and Chesterfield.

It’s something that gives grandparent Rolanda McMillan pause. "It's scary to see them this close to the school year,” she said.

We found a number of the advertisements  at schools also, with the districts are recruiting for bus drivers as they gear up for a busy school year.

"Bus drivers need to have a whole lot of experience when dealing with kids,” said McMillan.

Just how qualified are those drivers getting behind the wheel and is there a bus driver shortage?

CBS 6 reached out to Richmond and the surrounding counties to find out.  But the school systems declined our request for an interview.

The spokespersons said they hire bus drivers year round to make sure they have enough throughout the school year.

"Driving a school bus is a beautiful, it's an easy job; but it's the children,” said Laverne Harris.

Harris is a retired school bus driver for Richmond Public schools.

"What you got to do, is do your job.  Whatever they're doing on the school bus.  Get them to school and bring them home,” said Harris.

Harris says driving a school bus isn't easy, and can be dangerous.

"To me, it's a thankless job.  People don't realize what we have to go through with their kids in order for their kids to get to school safely.  People are running red lights.  People are running in front of you,” said Harris.

And Harris believes that may be the reason why there's a high turnover for school bus drivers.

"Some of the bus drivers you get them and they get on the bus and then all of the sudden they realize, it's not the job that they want because of the children.  And they'll quit and then you'll have to find somebody else,” said Harris.

School bus drivers must be 21 years of age, have a clean driving record and go through a criminal background check.  And you must have a Commercial Driver’s License and complete an online application.

And school bus drivers can earn up to $18,000 a year.