School bus drivers in short supply

Bus drivers are in such short supply for the Clark County School District that the School Board declared a “critical labor shortage” on Thursday.

The declaration enables the district to hire retired workers without penalty through Oct. 13, 2015, if the state approves. The district, fifth-largest in the nation, operates about 1,400 buses daily. It must show the state that it has made every effort to find and hire drivers, and is using retirees as a last resort.

The board approved the item as part of the consent agenda with no discussion during its Thursday night meeting.

“It will be a big help,” Lorraine Alderman, vice president of the School Board, said after the meeting. To be eligible, drivers must have been retired for one calendar year.

The district began the school year with 60 vacancies after losing 14 percent of its drivers last year.

The district has a history of being unable to put “qualified” drivers behind the wheel of all buses in need of operators. The reason has been that about one-fifth of those who start bus-driver training don’t finish or pass. Others make it through training but don’t pass the physical or drug tests.

In its request to the state, the district claims there’s a national shortage of school bus drivers. It’s unusual work in that it’s done in split shifts totaling six hours a day, and only spans nine months a year.

John Carr, president of the support staff union, during public comment said officials need to take a real look at the reason why there’s such a high turnover among bus drivers.

Contact reporter Trevon Milliard at tmilliard@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0279.

Contact reporter Yesenia Amaro at yamaro@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0440.