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Shortage of drivers causing problems with school bus runs

By Barbara High, Mineral News and Tribune

KEYSER, W.Va. — The Mineral County School System is currently facing a school bus driver shortage, resulting in some runs being cancelled.

“It is a country wide issue; everyone is looking for employees,” says John Droppleman, director of Support Services for Mineral County Schools, adding that driving a bus “is a tough position to sell.

“It really hurts that the state really does not pay them enough, for one,” Droppleman says. ‘“The state is far behind in teacher salaries compared to other states, but it is worse for support staff wages. Positions like bus drivers, cafeteria staff, janitors, maintenance, and mechanics are far behind other states in salaries,” he said.

“You also have to consider the cost to get certified is around $450 and that is paid out of their pocket,” Droppleman added. “Transportation director Brian Todd Liller has found a code that allows us to reimburse the cost of certification upon being hired. That helps, but they do have to cover the initial cost themselves,” he said.

“You also have to consider the amount of time it takes to get certified, which is a 60 hour course, with 40 hours being in class and 20 hours driving. They also have to pass two tests.

“Being certified also consists of getting your CDLs, a physical, and passing a drug test,” according to Droppleman. “That is all part of the $450 cost.”

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