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Want to drive a school bus?

by DEVIN WEEKS
Staff Writer | August 11, 2020 1:08 AM

CDA wants to hear from you

COEUR d’ALENE — Eight people with hearts for kids are needed as full-time school bus drivers for the Coeur d'Alene School District.

The district, which has more than 60 drivers for a fleet of 66 buses, is replacing five drivers and hiring three to fill new positions created with the boundary changes being implemented this school year.

While some school districts around the country are experiencing shortages and potential school bus driver strikes as they prepare to open schools in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, Coeur d'Alene School District director of operations Jeff Voeller said Monday his district is experiencing a normal amount of turnover as drivers retire and leave to other jobs.

"This is a position that is always posted because we always hover around just having enough," Voeller said. "If you're interested in driving buses, there's almost always a position available."

The district is also looking to increase its pool of substitutes from about eight or 10 drivers to 12 or 14 "in case we have drivers that are exposed to COVID, sick or out, we can still cover our routes," he said.

Coeur d’Alene School District bus drivers begin at $13.42. The hourly, at-will, classified position is for nine months with summer work possible. For those who work 20 or more hours per week, the district offers health, dental, vision and life insurance benefits. The district pays 100% coverage for the employee and a percentage of the family premium.

Sick and personal leave are available, and vacation time is offered for 12-month employees. Full-time employees are eligible for retirement benefits as members of the Public Employee Retirement System in the state of Idaho.

School bus drivers are responsible for keeping buses clean throughout the day, the frequency of which depends on what pandemic phase — minimal "green;" moderate "yellow;" substantial "orange;" or critical "red" — Kootenai County is in at the time.

"There's different variations," Voeller said. "There would be some additional requests of spraying down and wiping seats."

In the yellow and orange phases, as well as during the mask mandate, students and drivers will be in masks. Voeller said assigned seating and groups of family cohorts on buses are potential options to manage spacing arrangements.

"Things will be strategic with how we load the buses," he said.

Fewer students will be on buses during the orange phase, which will use a blend of in-person and remote instruction as well as staggered use of school buildings and rotating schedules. In red, all learning will be remote, so transportation will be extremely limited.

"We're asking people to be flexible, have patience with us as we work through and make the best decisions we can," Voeller said. "It’s just not going to be the same as it was in the past."

He said amid all the preparation, the district has added GPS to its school buses and it will phase in tracking cards kids will scan when they get on the bus. The cards will be accompanied by an app so parents and guardians will know in real time where their kids are.

"In the midst of the chaos and transition, we’re hoping that will give people peace of mind," Voeller said.

Those who apply for the bus driver positions need patience, the ability to take command of situations and they should love to be around kids.

"Those are the people who make the best bus drivers," Voeller said. "Those who say, 'Good morning,' 'How are you doing?' those who are really engaging with the kids are the bus drivers the kids really enjoy."

Visit www.cdaschools.org/jobs or contact Lisa Loy at lloy@cdaschools.org or 208-664-8241 ext. 10031 with questions .