Austintown Local School District is looking for bus drivers and substitute drivers as the early school year gets under way. Superintendent Vince Colaluca said it is a good deal as the district will help candidates get started.
"We are recruiting and we will pay for training and CDL certification," he said.
He said bus drivers start at $14.94, but the new two-tier bus route system puts drivers under the contracted hours for benefits.
Colaluca said the two-tier system was one the district had to make in a series of cost-trimming measures. He said $2 million had been cut this year from state and federal funds, leaving the district looking for ways to deal with the loss.
"The goal of the Board of Education is not to affect academics," Colaluca said. "We had to look at other areas when it came to budget cuts."
One thing the board looked at was transportation costs. Last school year, the district had a three-tier system, which required three separate runs per day for each bus. On any given day, the Austintown buses were logging more than 3,000 miles. With diesel fuel at $4 per gallon, the costs were adding up quickly.
"We looked at the two-tier system where buses make two runs per day," Colaluca said. "We had to add a few buses, but the miles were drastically reduced."
He said the present two-tier system is saving the district 1,000 miles per day. With bus fuel mileage so low, that meant a huge financial savings, but with the loss of benefits for the drivers that were now under the minimum contracted hours to receive benefits, the ranks dwindled. That has the district working hard to find drivers as well as substitutes.
As for out-of-district transportation, adjustments have been made to continue using the Austintown buses. The district had checked into using the WRTA, which is allowed by Ohio law. After meetings with the Youngstown Diocese regarding transporting to St. Christine's and Ursuline High School, and with Youngstown Christian School, that move was avoided.
"They made adjustments to their schedules so we didn't have to use the WRTA," Colaluca said. "The cost per student has been reduced and as long as our budget holds and ridership holds, we will keep transporting the kids on our buses in place. Should the budget or ridership drop, we may have to look at it again."
The new two-tier system seems to be working out, even with the early start of the school year. Austintown students headed to class two weeks earlier than usual. Colaluca said the early start will see the school year finish prior to Memorial Day. The early start was made to allow for more time to demolish Frank Ohl and Watson next summer as the two new buildings will be made ready for the start of the 2013-14 school year.
Those interested in applying for a bus driver position should call 330-797-3900 for more information. The district is also looking to hire in other non-teaching positions as well.