A new plan to improve transportation concerns is on the way for Wallingford Public Schools. The school district and bus company have been working collaboratively to implement a new system to maintain and recruit bus drivers.
Dr. Sal Menzo is Wallingford's Public School superintendent and said that he and Durham School Services have been meeting regularly since last year to find safe and efficient solutions.
"We have aggressively addressed it over the last several weeks," said Menzo. "I think the challenge is that it’s not a problem that can be solved in a day.”
Bus driver shortages and route consolidations are a few issues Wallingford Public Schools and Durham School Services are working to improve after mounting concerns from parents.
The two sides announced a new plan that raises the hourly rate by $2 for all CDL and van drivers, which began on February 1, bumping CLD pay from $18.34 per hour, to $20.43.
Durham is offering a $2,500 signing bonus for those who have their CDL license, and paying for those who need it to obtain their CDL licenses. Bus drivers who recruit CDL licenses drivers will also receive $2,000.
As of January 29, 2020, the company has 87 active drivers for 87 routes. Their goal is to reach 110% staffing and in order to do so, they need to bring on nine additional employees.
"We want to have drivers on standby so they can be used for any logistical problem," said Menzo. "We want to plan ahead because if there is someone who calls out sick, we want to make sure that someone is here to cover them."
The goal is to cut down on any complaints made in the past and cut down on stress for parents and students.
"We want to make sure that we’re always doing what’s right for our students to make sure that they’re safe and secure," Menzo said. "It''s our responsibility and we work very collaboratively with families to try to make certain that we run buses on schedule because we know how booked parents are.”
There are currently 19 trainees who are involved in the recruitment process. Two new drivers are set to begin on February 10, 2020.
The company is set to host a hiring event open house for all prospective drivers. The event will take place on Saturday, February 8 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Wallingford Marriott.