ALPENA - Alpena Public Schools is in need of bus drivers for the coming school year. Currently there are 34 drivers between part-time and full-time employees, and Facilities and Transportation Director Michael Gagnon said that number is just barely enough, but is still very low.
"We are short on drivers," Gagnon said. "We've had a few retirements, someone moved, and we are anticipating an additional retirement this year. When we're short on drivers, it makes it difficult to plan field trips and trips to athletic events. We have had to supplement our relief pool with some of our dispatchers and mechanics, which helps, but isn't the most efficient way to do things."
All the training necessary for new drivers to receive their CDL is provided by APS, including the school bus endorsement, passenger endorsement and air-brake endorsement. The district also reimburses successful candidate's license costs.
"Our bus drivers are the first representatives of the district to greet students each morning, and they are the last face of the district they see at the end of the day," Gagnon said. "Sometimes a cheerful 'good morning' and a smile from our drivers can make a student's day. It's an important job."
There are 34 routes throughout Alpena County and southeastern Presque Isle County covered by the district that deliver to all nine school buildings, along with providing transportation for All Saints Catholic School and Immanuel Lutheran School.
"Hours fluctuate for different positions, but often a relief driver or part-time driver can end up working nearly as many hours as a full-time driver," Gagnon said. "Once someone applies, they have to go through a background check and training, which is a two week class that includes a driving test. After successful completion of the test, a new driver will drive with an experienced driver and students on board, and then can learn their route."
Gagnon said in order to continue the service the transportation department provides, drivers are necessary.
"If we don't have enough drivers, something will have to give somewhere," he said. "In the worst-case scenario, we could have to change routes or alternate routes if we don't have enough drivers."
Potential drivers need to have a Michigan drivers license, enjoy interaction with children and be punctual, patient people. For more information, contact the transportation department at 358-5790.
Nicole Grulke can be reached via email at email@example.com or by phone at 358-5687. Follow Nicole on Twitter @ng_alpenanews.