By Dedra Cordle
A delay in the delivery of new buses should not have a negative impact on the daily operational functions of the transportation department, say officials with the South-Western City Schools District.
At a recent meeting, the board of education was informed that the 14 new buses they purchased for $1.81 million would arrive in phases throughout 2023 and 2024. When the board authorized the purchase this past winter, they believed they would arrive in time for the start of the new school year.
The reason for the unexpected delay in the arrival of the new buses, said officials, was largely due in part to the procurement of materials and a shortage of workers.
“It is our understanding that both materials and labor hurdles have impacted the delivery times for the manufacturer,” said Evan Debo, the district’s executive director of communications, in an email.
According to Debo, the district has only received two of the new buses thus far. The district is expected to receive four additional buses throughout the remainder of 2023, and the rest of the units should arrive in April 2024.
Debo said that while the delay in the delivery is not ideal, it will not have a negative impact on the efficiency of the department and its ability to transport the 12,000 students who ride the bus daily.
“Currently, the district’s 210 buses (to include various sizes and capacity) will not be immediately impacted,” he said. “All of these vehicles are operational and have passed their annual Ohio State Highway Patrol inspections that are required before a vehicle is deemed road-worthy for another school year.”
According to a recent transportation department report from supervisor Tim Cox, the average age of the buses in the district’s fleet is 7 years old. While there are a handful of buses on the road that were manufactured between 2006-2012, a majority of the fleet were manufactured after 2015.
Debo said it is the district’s practice to order new buses on an annual basis in order to ensure the operational reliability of the fleet and to keep up with evolving emissions regulations.
In related news, the district is still hiring substitute bus driver positions. According to Debo, the district currently has roughly five substitute bus drivers in its pool and are actively recruiting for the job. He said substitute drivers start at $18.80 per hour and then can transition to $21.39 per hour once they become a full-time driver with all of the training provided by the district. An applicant does not need a CDL (B) to be considered to drive.
In addition to a starting wage of $18.80 per hour, the district has implemented a substitute incentive program to attract and retain substitute bus drivers. Under the program, substitute drivers can also receive a lump sum payment of $500, $750, and $1,000 should they be employed by the district for 50 days, 100 days, and 150 days, respectively.
Interested parties can find out more information regarding bus driving positions and other district career opportunities by visiting the district’s website at swcsd.us and clicking on the Careers Tabs at the top of the page.