Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District experiences bus driver shortage

District is considering lowering the current level of professional qualifications

From Dolores Quintana

The Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District is experiencing an extreme shortage of applicants for open school bus driver positions similar to the rest of the country.

In order to attract more qualified applicants, the district put forward the idea of ​​lowering the current qualification level. As of now, the minimum requirements are a high school diploma, six months of training, and professional driving experience and a clean driving log, as well as the proper licenses and certifications required by the state, the Santa Monica Daily Press reported.

Josh Kahn, director of human resources, told the Santa Monica Daily Press, “The district will propose making high school graduation and professional driving experience preferred qualifications, but not required in October.” Kahn added: “The district will maintain the necessary certifications, licenses and a clean driving report.” These state-mandated requirements are non-negotiable and will remain in place.

In addition, the Personnel Commission has already decided on a higher salary rate to make these positions even more competitive. Pay for bus drivers starts at what is usually the highest wage rate for the most experienced drivers, which is $ 24.88 per hour.

There are two open positions for the district, one of which has been open for over a year and a half or since January 2020. While the open position had 19,000 views on the website and over a hundred applications by July 2021, there were only six candidates out of that number who could be considered qualified for the open positions.

Human Resources Director Kahn also added to the Santa Monica Daily Press, “Even if someone had very limited experience, they could take advantage of this offer and do more with us than in any other LA district. Even advertising at this higher price is still less than what some private companies like American Transportation are offering, which is $ 29 an hour and $ 1,000 per sign-up bonus, which really shows how bad the current climate is. ”

Qualified bus drivers are so in demand that SMMUSD feels entitled to offer potential bus drivers the most favorable conditions. It really is that difficult to find the right people for the job, and it affects the day-to-day running of the schools and the district.

“Just like we called other counties to [busing] Support. They’re calling us for support, “Superintendent Ben Drati told the Santa Monica Daily Press,” and Charter, they don’t exist because they have already been included. So we have to solve this situation. ”

In other states, the situation is so desperate that governors have sent members of the National Guard to drive school buses in states like Massachusetts and Ohio, Fortune reports. In Texas, teachers and basketball coaches were asked to ride buses before school started, as reported by The Hustle.

Superintendent Drati told the Santa Monica Daily Press that the greatest need for internal bus services within SMMUSD is in the Malibu area, but Santa Monica has a need for field trips and specialty training. He said he had also received emails about the need for buses in athletics programs.

If you are interested in a job as a bus driver at SMMUSD, you can find the job page here:

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