LAFAYETTE — Lafayette Parish schools may make it easier to become a substitute school bus driver.
Transportation Director Bill Samec has asked the parish school board to suspend its requirement that a driver have a high school diploma or equivalency diploma, The Advocate reports.
Samec said that when the district sought part-time drivers in March, it didn’t find enough to meet its goal of 30 for the next
Part-time, substitute drivers are often promoted to full-time drivers in Lafayette.
Linda Matthew, former president of the Louisiana School Bus Operators Association, said the problem is low pay. Substitute drivers make between $56 and $86 a day.
“There is definitely a shortage throughout the state,” Matthew said. “It’s not a question of education…. It’s the pay.”
Matthew also said training on topics such as bullying prevention and ethics requires drivers to take time away from their second
The number of available substitutes typically fluctuates with the economy, particularly the status of the oil and gas
industry, Samec said.
“When oil is between $90 and $100 a barrel, we can’t find drivers. If oil is $40 a barrel, we’ve got people knocking on the door,”
The substitute shortage is “critical” in the Iberia Parish school system, where there are only 13 substitutes for 129 drivers, said
Raymond Noel, Iberia Parish Schools transportation director.
“We spend a lot of time shuffling routes because of the shortage of substitutes,” he said. “It’s an ongoing issue. A couple of years
ago, we were down to three or four substitutes.”
In Lafayette, Samec said he fears the district will start the school year without enough people to cover for absent drivers.
“We have about a 10 percent daily absentee rate for bus drivers,” he said. “That’s basically 30 people out about every day. Even
with 30 substitutes, I’ve got staff members driving buses.”