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Several counties facing school bus driver shortages

Kanawha County Schools is experiencing a bus driver shortage. (WCHS/WVAH)

As schools get ready to kick off another year, transportation services in several school districts are dealing with a shortage of bus drivers.

The lack of bus drivers isn’t just in West Virginia. Rod Stapler, president of the West Virginia School Service Personnel Association, said there is a national shortage.

Kanawha County Schools is one of the school districts in West Virginia that is experiencing a bus driver shortage.

The county has slots for 164 drivers, but it is 20 short.

Stapler said he believes pay is the factor.

"You're looking at two to three months of training a driver,” Stapler said. “They're not getting paid anything, so they're not going to hang around long."

Stapler said bus drivers make about $20,000 a year, but some drivers said they don't do it for the money.

Peggy Stone, supervisor of transportation at the Elkview terminal, said a driver loves "the hugs that you get from the kids, especially the younger ones that are excited to see you. Even with the older kids, you become their confidant. Sometimes you're the first adult they see in the morning; the last adult they talk to in the evening."

For Robert Taylor, supervisor of transportation at Putnam County Schools, the reward is "transporting them home every day and seeing that smiling face as they get off the bus, and the warm heart of giving them passion for the school system as they arrive in the morning.”

Taylor said Putnam County Schools could use eight to 10 more sub drivers.

"This person would have to have a CDL (Commerical Driver's License), and our county will provide training for that,” Taylor said.

Transportation staff members said they are looking for people who enjoy driving and being around kids.

In Kanawha County, those looking to be school bus drivers would have to go through 40 hours of classroom training, 12 hours behind the wheel and have a CDL.

Those who are interested in a job at Kanawha County Schools, click here.

If you are looking to apply for a sub bus driver position in Putnam County, Taylor said to apply at the Putnam County Schools Central Office.

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