Shirley Larrimore has been a bus driver for the district for six years, and she loves every moment of it. “I love it here. I wish I would have found it years ago!” says Shirley. She enjoys getting to know the students on her route, surprising them with valentines on Valentine’s Day, and giving their dogs treats that meet her at the bus stop! “We’re the first ones they see in the morning, so we can set the tone for the day. If they come on in a bad mood, I have a great attendant, Debbie, and we try to uplift them a little bit.”

When 32-year veteran bus driver LaVern Burns thinks about his time at CRCSD, he expresses that he just keeps coming back to the job. He’s been an associate teacher and tutor for the district, but always finds himself back in the transportation department doing what he loves. “Came out here thinking I would have a 90 day job, and here I am 32 years later,” says LaVern. “We have lots of teachers that will retire and come back to drive a bus. We like to be around the kids, they keep you younger and more active.”

There is a nationwide bus driver shortage within just about every school district. CRCSD, as the second largest school district in Iowa, is also facing challenging bus driver shortages. In these challenging times, the CRCSD transportation department steps up to determine how to best serve our students and community. CRCSD is implementing several short and long-term strategies to close the staffing shortage gap.

Bus routes and smiling bus drivers ready for the first day of school

The transportation department has been working hard for kids and the community and will be ready to go on Tuesday, August 23, for the first day of school. Many strategic approaches have been made, such as re-aligning routes, combining routes and having mechanics trained and driving buses. School bus routes have been extended, as buses are now picking up kids for multiple schools, then dropping kids off at several schools each morning. Communication between the transportation department and each individual school has increased to accommodate the arrival time of buses.

Full-time benefits with part-time hours

Some of the new benefits being offered are sign-on bonuses for new drivers, as well as health insurance and IPERS retirement offered to all drivers working a minimum of 30 hours per week. New drivers with no experience can earn a $2,000 bonus, while drivers with a Class A CDL and all necessary passenger endorsements can earn a $5,000 bonus. These bonuses are paid out over the course of the first year of employment with CRCSD.

Benefits of working as a CRCSD bus driver include:

  • $2,000 – $5,000 sign-on bonus (dependent on experience)
  • Guaranteed minimum 30 hours per week + additional hours available through field trips
  • Health insurance benefits
  • IPERS retirement (amazing benefit – look into it!)
  • Holidays and weekends off
  • Transportation department bus stop for drivers with kids attending CRCSD
  • Serve the community with a friendly face!

A look at supportive training

With the new federal requirements, those looking to get a class A CDL may have to pay for training at some companies, while CRCSD continues to pay for training for all new hires. The training program is a combination of classroom, closed range (not on the road with other traffic) and over the road, behind the wheel training. This combination gives the most thorough training possible, and it exceeds the minimum federal training requirements, including meeting the ELDT standards (Entry Level Driver Training).

“Our training is the best training they’re going to get in the area. Our goal is not to get a driver behind the wheel, it’s to get a safe driver behind the wheel.” Erica Shelangoski, Transportation Training & Safety Supervisor says. “If people are concerned about driving a bus because they’re scared, don’t let that hold you back. We’ve got such great training.”

Training for a bus driver at the CRCSD lasts six weeks. Trainees work as a bus attendant in the morning, head off to a three-hour training midday, then finish out the day as a bus attendant in the afternoon. This allows on-the-job training while attending CDL training. Once training is complete, the work schedule is Monday- Thursday from 6- 9am and 2- 5pm, Fridays 6- 9am and 12:30- 3:30pm. There is some flexibility available if someone can only work one shift of the day.

If you know someone who is looking for a part-time job with full-time benefits where they can also feel good about serving their community, encourage them to apply to be a CRCSD Bus Driver via the online application.