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Tangipahoa Parish raising bus driver pay and offering free training to address shortage

A school bus in Escanaba
A school bus in Escanaba(WLUC)
Published: Oct. 22, 2021 at 8:36 AM CDT
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AMITE, La. (WVUE) - While parents of students have expressed concerns about the limited availability of transportation resources, the Tangipahoa Parish School System announced yesterday that it will raise bus driver pay and offer free training to address their worker shortage.

Superintendent Melissa Stilley said her district is struggling to find substitute bus drivers and that the district needs 270 bus drivers on the road and more employees are needed to hit that mark.

“With more than 1200 miles of parish roads to travel and tens of thousands of children depending on our transportation service to make it to and from school every day, we simply cannot afford to have buses parked for lack of drivers,” Stilley said.

Stilley also said that the driver availability shortage has resulted in delaying the start of the system’s after-school program until the second semester.

“This is a critical time for our students, and we are facing a dire shortage of drivers to help us get our children the classroom time they need,” Stilley said.

To address the issue head-on, Stilley said that the system is raising driver pay to $19.84 and guaranteeing that each driver will be compensated for a mandatory minimum of 5 hours per day. In addition to the wage increase, applicants are offered free training. The training process will take about three weeks to complete, she said.

“We’ve lost drivers to neighboring parishes. We’ve lost drivers to other part-time work. And when we lose, that means our students are losing,” Stilley said.

She said that about 30 applicants have applied so far and that the district has no plans to stop now. Another training class will begin shortly after this one concludes, and interested individuals can sign up now to reserve their spot.

“We invite anyone who is interested in joining our transportation team to reach out to us by email at bus@tangischools.org. We will put your name on our list for the next round of training,” Stilley said.

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