School system seeks drivers to fill shortage

To deal with a shortage of substitute bus drivers, St. Charles Parish Public Schools will hold an information session on March 31.

Substitute drivers help keep 131 buses running that transport over 8,500 students to and from school every day.

Patrick O’Malley, the school’s administrator of ancillary services, said there is a shortage of drivers locally and nationally which is why it’s important to keep a good pool of subs. O’Malley said on average the system has 131 permanent drivers and 10 to 15 substitutes, but if a regular driver is out for an extended period of time then a sub takes that position and fewer subs are available.

Becoming a substitute bus driver presents a good opportunity for a variety of candidates, he said.

The information session, scheduled through the school system’s Community Education Program, will be held at 6:30 p.m. March 31 at Destrehan High School. Transportation employees will explain the position and process, as well as answer questions.

For anyone who wants to become a permanent driver, O’Malley said becoming a substitute driver is typically the way to that position because they typically hire them from the substitute driver pool.

“If you want a career opportunity you should start as a sub,” he said. “On the other hand, if you work shift work and want temporary work, this is an opportunity to work another part-time job.”

Working as a substitute driver also offers the opportunity for temporary or part-time work.

Substitute drivers receive an hourly wage of $17.84 and work an estimated 4.5 hours a day when needed. The requirements for the position include a CDL, three years safe driving record and satisfactory completion of a physical examination. The daily hours vary between 6:30 to 8:45 a.m. in the morning and 2 p.m. and until all children are dropped off in the afternoon.

“It’s really intended to be a transitional position, either transitioning to fulltime bus driver or an in between careers kind of position,” he said, “A lot of times we may get retirees from plants in the area. They are steeped in safety with time on their hands. They are used to getting up very early in the morning and those are all good characteristics.”

Anyone interested in becoming a substitute bus driver must have a CDL before they can be considered for a position. For those who do not have a CDL, O’Malley suggests going to the Office of Motor Vehicles to find out the requirements and to take the CDL test. Candidates who already have CDLs and are chosen as substitute bus drivers go through training provided by the school to receive passenger and bus endorsements as well as training in dealing with children.

O’Malley said one of the biggest upsides to becoming a substitute driver is that it allows a lot of flexibility.

“Obviously the more you are available, the more frequently you’ll be called, but if you are only available the third Wednesday of ever other month we may be able to use you that one day,” he said.

However, O’Malley said applicants must remember that the job is really about the kids.

“In a lot of ways for most of our drivers, it is somewhat of a calling, it’s a passion. You have to love it, you can’t do it just for the money. You have to have love it and enjoy it,” he said.

There are a large number of openings available for interested candidates.

“We can certainly use them and it may take a little while to get started, but the sooner you start the process the sooner we’ll have you driving a bus,” O’Malley said.

O’Malley said becoming a substitute bus driver is in particular a good way for candidates to get their foot in the door to become fulltime drivers.

“It is not uncommon that our substitutes roll into the fulltime vacancies, but by that time they are kind of tried and true and have great record and they know what they are getting into,” he said.

Fulltime drivers receive all benefits provided to other school system employees including health insurance and retirement.

Those interested in becoming substitute bus drivers can apply online at


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