SPRINGDALE, Ark. (KNWA) — The Springdale School District is at risk of cutting bus routes as it struggles to find bus drivers.
To accommodate over 15,000 kids, the district has around 150 drivers.
By Thanksgiving, it’s trying to bump-up that number to 170 or 180.
Kevin Conkin, the assistant transportation director for the Springdale School District, said, “This is not just a Springdale problem. This is a problem with all schools in the state of Arkansas.”
The district is running about 25 bus drivers short at the moment, which could cause drivers to double up on routes.
“That either causes the child to be late home or be picked up earlier than normal,” said Conkin. “We are doing okay at this point but we want to do great. That’s what our kids deserve.”
He also said, “I know that there are moms, dads, grandmas, grandpas, out there, and aunts and uncles that would be willing to drive a school bus.”
One of those moms is Marcy Bagwell, who doubles as a CDL bus driver instructor.
“I take care of the kids, saying, ‘Hey you got your shoes? You got your bag? Your books? You ready? Okay,'” Bagwell said.
Bagwell takes pride in driving her bus routes, acting as a second mom to some of these students.
“Sometimes we’re the first person they ever see in the morning or the first person that says ‘have a great day, what’s going on?” she said.
It’s a big responsibility to be in charge of this group of kids.
So while the district wants more drivers, Conkin said not just anyone can do it.
He said, “We do the Arkansas State Police background check, plus they go through the child maltreatment process. So we do screen our drivers thoroughly on being with your children.”
Two Springdale bus drivers were arrested in 2013 and 2016, but they both passed the background check.
Conkin said no one steps on the bus that doesn’t have the child’s best interest in mind.
Bagwell said, “I’m friends and nice to all my moms and I know it makes them a lot more comfortable knowing that I take care of their kid.”
While connecting with kids is a plus, the job does allow you to make a little extra money on the side.
“If you need a supplemental income, if you want to meet kids, go on field trips, there are lots of reasons why you could do it,” she said.
Conkin said, “They’re the real heros of the school district.”
Bagwell said, “You get to see them grow up and grow older, and then they go on to another bus and you hope you pave the way for the next bus driver.”
If you would like to apply for a bus driver position, see the photo below.