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CCISD still suffering from school bus driver shortage

Posted at 6:44 PM, Aug 05, 2022

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Before Jerrilyn Moore got into her school bus, she checked to make sure the stop signs on the outside of the bus were working.

She opened up the hood of the bus to make sure it had the proper amount of fluid.

For Moore, it’s a daily routine before she steps onto the bus. Once on the bus, she will check the gauges and bus seats.

Driving the school bus is a passion for Moore, a passion that helps her connect with students.

“We have to show that we care for them and I do. I love my job,” Moore said.

Moore usually takes students to three of the Corpus Christi Independent School District’s campuses, but because of the bus driver shortage in the district, she’s having to take on more schools.

“We may have to help one another out. We didn’t have to do it as much last school year,” she said.

CCISD’s director of transportation Kyle Pelichet said they have about 84 bus drivers, but need about 120.

He said they’ve had a shortage of drivers since last year because drivers will retire and the new ones just make up for the ones leaving.

To make up for the shortage of drivers, operations staff and vehicle technicians will fill in as bus drivers, he said.

Some of them regularly, and some as substitutes. That allows them to cover all the bus routes.

Pelichet said in order to attract more drivers, the district raised pay for the job — with no experience — from $15 to $18.

He added they’re also paying drivers in the summer when they’re off, and raising the minimum amount of work hours to 30.

Brandon Vera has been a school bus driver for about four years and said he’s wanted to be a driver since he was a little kid.

Because of the shortage of drivers, he’s had to take on more shifts for school field trips and activities.

“There is more routes since there are new campuses opening up. We do have to help each other out, like it’s one team,” Vera said.

However, even with the shortage, they’re going the extra mile.

“Teamwork makes the dream work,” Moore said.

Vera echoed similar thoughts and said what makes the job worth it is seeing the kids.

"You get to drive a school bus and see all the happy faces and you’re making a difference in transporting these students,” he said.