Kanawha County Schools in “Desperate” Need of Bus Drivers

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KANAWHA COUNTY, WV (WOWK) – More routes & longer days. That’s the reality for many Kanawha County School bus drivers as the district faces a shortage of precisely 21 drivers.

“It’s a constant need,” said Brette Fraley, KCS Director of Transportation. “You have to get students to and from school so any time you’re not fully staffed,that puts you in an unusual predicament.”

While Fraley says there’s no overcrowding on school buses due to the driver shortage, it has meant supervisors and mechanics have started driving bus routes on top of their other duties. Regular school bus drivers have also had to pick up more routes.

“They’ve done extra, they’ve never complained. They’ve stepped up and hopped on board and helped us figure out situations,” Fraley said.

Still, Fraley says they’re hoping to get more bus drivers for next school year. Their next school bus driver training session is June 5, and they need more applicants before then.

The training process can take anywhere from 3 weeks to 3 months, Fraley says. It includes a 40-hour educational class, 12 hours behind the wheel, obtaining a CDL license and passing a series of tests.

“It’s extensive,” Fraley said of the training process. “It’s a good program. When you’re hauling kids, it’s not freight so there’s a big emphasis [on safety].”

Kanawha County School bus drivers make $111.35 per day, according to Elkview school bus garage employees. Current drivers tell us there are several perks to the job.

“The schedule is a perk – you have a lot of time in the middle of the day to do things you need to do, and pick up extra work if need be,” said Brian Newhouse, KCS bus driver. “It’s just the joy of being out here. You’re not stuck in a building all day – you get to enjoy god’s creation. Definitely love it.”

A typical school bus driver will run routes from 5:30 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. and also from 1:30 p.m. to 5 p.m., according to school bus garage employees.

For people who are interested in becoming a bus driver, applications are online. Click here to go to the KCS employment website, then select “Job Postings.” Employees say you should apply for the “Substitute Bus Driver” position as soon as possible if you’d like to become a driver. 

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