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Recruitment Push Aims To Find Bus Drivers

Richard Hill is pictured behind the wheel of a Bemus Point Central School bus. The district, like many schools across the country, is looking for more bus drivers. P-J photo by Eric Tichy

BEMUS POINT — Richard Hill has been around kids most of his life. He also was a truck driver for several years.

A career move driving a bus for the Bemus Point Central School District seemed like a natural choice.

“I used to be a truck driver and I did that for years,” Hill said recently. “I worked in the daycare system for 15 years. At daycare I did everything, helping with the babies to fixing up the place and everything in between.”

Efforts by Bemus Point to attract new drivers brought Hill to the district. “They said, ‘Come drive a bus and see if you like it,'” he said. “So, I show up at the high school and went around the parking lot and I liked it. I filled out an application and here I am.”

Bemus Point school officials are hoping Hill’s story will bolster efforts at finding more bus drivers. A “Drive a Bus” recruitment event will take place Friday.

“I just want to emphasize that we are able to assist anyone interested in learning how to drive a school bus,” said Joseph Reyda, Bemus Point superintendent. “We’ll work with applicants to get hands-on experience behind the wheel. It’s also a good occupation for those who want a flexible schedule.”

A bus will be at Maple Grove from 1-4 p.m. Friday for those interested in potentially becoming a driver.

Application forms also will be available for people to pick up and complete.

“We’re also encouraging people to attend if they are interested in applying for any substitute position in the district,” Reyda added. “This includes substitute teachers and teacher aides, cleaners and groundskeepers, and nursing and clerical support.”

For Hill, driving a school bus — not all too different than operating a semi — has brought with it a sense of nostalgia. Not only did he attend school in the district but his kids did as well.

Dwayne Dustin, district transportation supervisor, said potential drivers receive plenty of training.

“When they feel like they’re ready we go out for a road test,” Dustin said. “If they pass the road test, we get them in a bus and ride with them and teach them a route. And when I feel comfortable, and they feel comfortable, we’ll turn them loose, but not until then.”

School districts across the country have been facing a shortage of school bus drivers. Many local districts actively are advertising for open positions, with Bemus Point hosting “Drive a Bus” events to help land new drivers.

In Bemus Point, the district also implemented bus routing software that tells drivers exactly where each student is to be dropped off. The system helps with new drivers or those filling in not have to learn new routes.

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