BRAZOS COUNTY, TX — School districts across Texas have seen various demands in faculty, forcing departments to adapt to the lack of employees.
Caldwell ISD has experienced this firsthand.
”We’re having them slowly start to leave" said Brady Beavers, Head of Transportation for Caldwell ISD. "We're struggling to keep people here. It’s a bad environment when you have 60 plus kids on a bus,”
Beavers has found himself driving routes on days they're short of drivers. He acknowledges his employees are putting themselves at risk even though they love their job.
”I have older retired bus drivers that are putting themselves at risk, because a lot of them are over 65,” he added.
Bryan ISD has about 125 drivers currently employed, but since the start of the pandemic, they have lost about a dozen drivers, leaving mechanics and front office workers to pick up the load and assist the team in their daily coverage of over 100 routes.
”A lot of people that do this are people that do love to serve in some fashion," said Warren Lanphier, Head of Transportation for Bryan ISD. "Whether it’s because they love children or they find it their best place to be is in service to their communities."
Currently the Bryan ISD Transportation Department is operating at 50% occupancy, which looks like about 35 to 45 students in a bus that seats 78 passengers. According to Lanphier, the department still sees an average of 16 absences of drivers a day.
”To be in really good shape right now, we could use six to 10 drivers to be where we would be comfortable every day,” Lanphier added.
On average, the department usually gains six to 10 new employees from job fairs held at the beginning of the year before school starts. These events are not taking place due to COVID-19, causing a loss in recruitment opportunities.
Slowly but surely, College Station ISD has seen a small increase in interest for substitute positions, but say the demand is still great.
”The increase of individuals working that is increased," said Nkrumah Dixon, the Director of Employee Engagement for College Station ISD. "That is trending upward, but we’re still not entirely meeting the entire demand and so we always have applications open.”
These school districts are readily taking applications. To become a substitute teacher for College Station ISD, you must have at least 60 college credits, go through a background check and fill out any additional paper work required.
Meanwhile, bus drivers must become certified. The number of open positions varies per district.