SAHUARITA, Ariz. - Substitute teachers are common in schools -- but the school district in Sahuarita has had to turn to substitute bus drivers. The district does not have enough drivers -- so other workers are filling in.
Before a bus rolls out of Sahuarita's bus yard, the drivers thoroughly check it for safety.
But some of these drivers are substitutes, like mechanics or messengers, filling in because the district is eleven drivers short of its usual count of 48.
District Transportation director Mike Fiesler is doing some of the driving himself. He says it's hard holding onto drivers when the job's just 10 months a year.
"All of us in my department, including our mechanics, our office staff, everybody is also licensed and certified drivers as well. So we jump in, pitch in and help out including myself.”
KGUN9 reporter Craig Smith asked: “Do they have all the background checks required for work with kids and all?”
Fiesler says, “The exact same thing drivers do; they're all fingerprinted, background check, drug tests, the whole certification process”
Pay starts at $13.05 an hour. Nathan Schuller has spent four years on on long lonely drives as a long haul trucker. Now he'll have plenty of company when he wraps up his training to drive a bus full of kids.
He says, “You spend a lot of hours in a truck a long way from home. I'm a lot happier. I'd recommend it to other drivers who are looking to get off the road and they have families and kids."
Some students will climb on a bus and find Assistant Superintendent Scott Downs behind the wheel. He usually works with things like construction and human resources.
"I used to be a school principal, and I miss kids. And we all go into education to be with kids. I think our bus department transports the number one cargo in America, which is kids and so to be a part of that and to be back with kids, I personally look forward to it."
But he can only take a little time from his regular duties and the other substitute drivers have to work overtime to get their regular jobs done so the district is eager to fill those driver seats.
If you're interested in applying to drive for Sahuarita Schools you can apply through the district website or call 520-625-3502 extension 1190.