Charlie Brown checks his rearview mirror before heading onto the road Monday in a Marietta City Schools bus. (Photo courtesy of Marietta City Schools)
Approximately 71 percent of Marietta City School students ride the bus.
That’s 1,650 students greeted each morning and dropped off each afternoon by the smiling faces of drivers traversing 1,350 miles each day to keep Tigers in school, ready to learn and grow.
But the team of 16 drivers needs their support in the wings, ready to step in.
“If I had five subs we would be in great shape,” shared Transportation and Facilities Manager Darrell Prim as he planned the school district’s upcoming recruiting event.
Local residents are invited on Nov. 6 at 11 a.m. to get behind the wheel of a bus and try it out for themselves.
“We’re going to take our buses up to the high school parking lot and put people in the seat, let them drive and see what it’s like,” Prim announced to his team during National School Bus Safety Week. “When I talk to people about subbing some say well, I can’t drive that big thing. But let’s let them try.”
With the hope of piquing interest during the nationwide shortage of drivers, Marietta City Schools’ Board of Education recently increased the substitute driver per diem rate to $16 per hour, up from $12 per hour.
Individuals approved to substitute in the non-certified position may also sub in aide, attendant, custodial, maintenance and secretarial roles as needed for a rate of $12 per hour, also increased by the board from the previous $10 per hour. Substitute staff may work up to 29 hours per week.
To remove barriers to employment, Marietta City Schools is also extending the offer to reimburse the cost of the required background check and cover the cost of training for successful applicants.
What drives you?
For Mark Stewart, driving Tigers from their first days in school until they graduate from Marietta High School and the Washington County Career Center is worth the early mornings.
“It’s the best job you’ll ever have,” said the veteran driver and onboard instructor.
“You might be the first face they see in the morning, you might be the happiest face they see in the morning,” added Vonda Brown after returning from Phillips Elementary School.
On Bus 22, Helen Miller loves to hear about how her students’ days have gone.
“And now, I’m getting children who are the kids of kids that I had when I first started driving the bus,” said the 26-year veteran behind the wheel. “Still, they tell me the things that they are doing or accomplishing, or what they did the night before with their parents. That’s the best, they’re sharing things that are going on in their lives.”
Each driver brings a dedication to the safety of their students to the job each day and with the Saturday opportunity to climb behind the wheel, you can get a taste of that joy.
That hands-on experience then easily segues into the next steps, with successful applicants able to get behind the wheel with students by the end of 2021.
• Pass an FBI/BCI Background Check through the Ohio Valley Educational Resource Center (1338 Colegate Drive, Marietta).
• Pass a drug test.
• Earn a Class B Commercial Drivers License with a bus driver endorsement (from Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles).
• Complete the Ohio Preservice School Bus Driver Training Class Nov. 15-18 (at the Washington County Career Center).
• Complete individual coaching with Marietta City Schools’ onboard instructors.
• Pass the School Bus Driving Evaluation and School Bus Inspection Evaluation (at the Gnadenhutten testing location).
“That 15-hour class at the career center is mandated by the Ohio Department of Education and then they work personally here with our Onboard Instructors who get them ready to earn the Class B CDL bus driver endorsement,” explained Prim.
IF YOU GO
Who: All adults in Washington County with at least two years’ driving experience.
What: Get Behind the Wheel; Bus driving recruitment day at Marietta City Schools.
When: Nov. 6, 11 a.m.- 1 p.m.
Where: Marietta High School Academy Drive Parking Lot (from Colegate Drive above Goodwill).
Why: Keep our students in school, learning and growing with their peers.
For more information contact Marietta City Schools Director of Media and Communications Janelle Patterson, 740-374-6502; firstname.lastname@example.org