Highland in ‘critical’ need of bus drivers

by Chris Studor

March 21 school board meeting

“If we had to start the next school year tomorrow, for example, we would be short six bus drivers and the substitute driver situation is no better.”

This is what Highland Superintendent Catherine Aukerman told members of the school board at its meeting March 21.

“We are doing everything we can, being very creative, to try and attract more drivers,” said Aukerman. “       Without more drivers we have drivers double up on runs and that means delays. With our extracurricular activities, like athletics, we have had to go to outside sources this spring to get athletes to events since the end of the school day for elementary students is after the 3 p.m. time athletes need to get to competition.”

Aukerman told board members she plans to present a proposal at the April board meeting to allow members to discuss raising the pay for substitute drivers and to offer compensation for training of new drivers who commit to driving for the district. Training requires as much as 40 hours of classroom and on-the-road training, she said.

Aukerman said drivers can take split shifts, working a morning bus run, an evening bus run or both. Drivers can also pick up extra pay by working after-school trips. She said a typical bus driver is on the road 4 to 5 ½ hours a day depending on the route.

“If we don’t get more drivers by next school year, it will mean some drivers will have to double up on routes and more students will be on routes meaning a longer time on the bus,” added Aukerman.

Anyone interested in becoming a Highland School District bus driver is encouraged to contact the Highland Transportation Department at; 330-239-1901, ext. 1219.

In other business, Highland Athletic Director, Nick Ranallo provided a wrap up of the fall and winter sports seasons.

“We had successful seasons across the board, from our middle school to high school levels,” said Ranollo. “We hope to win the All Sports (league) trophy again this year after winning it twice. Our athletes not only succeed on the field but academically as well, with the athletes having an average grade point average of 3.75.”