BRENHAM ISD PARENTS VOICE CONCERNS ABOUT SAFETY ON SCHOOL BUSES AMID DRIVER SHORTAGE

  

Some Brenham ISD parents are concerned about the safety of their children aboard school buses, while the district struggles to find people to drive them.

Overcrowding and longer run times for some buses has parents worried and debating whether their children should be using school transportation.  One parent, Cassi Harrison, has pulled her three children off after she says her daughter had to sit on the floor of her elementary school bus, which had students from two bus routes.

Harrison says the safety of the children needs to be addressed.

 

 

Deshawn Mitchell, safety supervisor for Durham School Services, the bus operator for Brenham ISD, says what happened with Harrison’s daughter last week should never have occurred, and that the driver and bus monitor have each been reprimanded.  Mitchell says this incident is the first involving this particular driver and monitor, so they have each received a written warning, but future disciplinary action includes the possibility of termination.

According to Mitchell, Durham currently has 38 routes covering Brenham ISD, and about five of them are “doubled up” with students.  She says how many students are on board at one time depends on the size of the bus, but buses carrying a second route can get close to the largest bus’s capacity of 84 students.

Mitchell says many of the concerns can be boiled down to a shortage of bus drivers and monitors affecting schools around the nation, with a smaller pool of applicants which is already narrowed due to the need for background checks and Commercial Driver’s Licenses (CDL's).  She says the search for new drivers is not getting any easier, either.

 

 

Brenham ISD acknowledged the shortage in a statement on Friday, and is one of numerous school districts scrambling to find personnel to run the buses.  Hutto ISD announced Sunday it would be cancelling all regular bus routes until further notice due to COVID-19, further exacerbating the issue of a limited number of drivers.

Durham General Manager Omiyon Toran says several Brenham ISD teachers and coaches with CDL's are assisting in running routes when they can, and even he and Mitchell are driving routes.  He says Durham is working through the problem the best it can, and maintains the top priority is transporting students to and from school safely and on time.

 

 

Harrison is glad Brenham ISD and Durham are aware of the issue, but says steps need to be taken to ensure no other parents have the problems she has experienced.

 

 

In the meantime, as Durham continues to search for bus drivers and monitors, Brenham ISD is asking parents to consider driving their children themselves or setting up a car pool if they are able to do so.

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24 Comments

    1. Exactly! Everyone is due a level of respect. The key word is “everyone”. What employers pay their employees reflect the level of respect that employers have for their employees. The power is shifting between employers and employees amid the “Great Resignations” across our nation. People are refusing to work for substandard wages while the top 1%-5% of executives and shareholders get richer at the expense of creating poverty across several generations and then expecting the tax paying public to clean up the financial mess created by their dysfunctional egos, stupidity and greed! Durham, along with most business enterprises in this fair city, should pay their employees a RESPECTABLE wage + 21st century benefits and the issues of loyalty & employee retention would no doubt solve themselves. Most people ARE NOT LAZY. They want to work so they can provide for their families. People tend to become bitter and resentful when they are taken advantage of or taken for granted. Employees do not just want a summer picnic or Christmas party. Pay them a respectable wage and they will host their own picnic or throw their own Christmas party. Durham is causing our children to become the victims.
      Yea, it is not rocket science and the executive dummies at the top should understand that!

  1. Companies such as Durham exist because school districts are allowed to ‘pass the buck” so that they can now proclaim “they are not responsible”. This political scapegoating has ruined the integrity of this nation. The second reason why there is a shortage of drivers is because “you get what you pay for”. Sadly, some think that only those on the bottom of the totem pole should be “forced” back to work for slave wages. Certainly not those sitting in corporate administrative “penthouse” positions. Fortunately we live in a democracy and an excellent wage still attracts excellent employees. To expect loyalty without proper financial reward or that “slaves” should work for the “experience” is lunacy. I think people are struggling to adjust to our “new normal” that the consequences and repercussions of the pandemic has caused. Pay now or pay later. I LOVE IT!!!

  2. I drove a school bus as a substitute driver for Burton HS WHILE ATTENDING Burton HS. It was fun, a little extra money and I LOVED IT. TODAY – there is not enough money in the world that would have me drive a school bus.

  3. I totally agree with this. Almost everytime I have had to communicate with anyone besides Mrs Mitchell I have been met with rudeness and excuses. I just want every child to be safe. No matter the situation.

  4. Ideas to fill bus driver positions must be few to none as most school districts are struggling to fill driver shortages. Put the respect and importance of this position higher as they hold the safety of hundreds of precious children in their hands. Pay them good wage but mainly attach a new value on the role of a school bus driver.
    Takes a special person to drive most valuable cargo – the school children – and most importantly to drive them safely to and from school. Pay all drivers a respectable wage – but also support them with a bus monitor to ride the bus to keep order while the driver does their driving. Bus monitors could be volunteers – there are lots of parents, grand parents and retirees to draw from from.
    What if parents, grandparents and retired persons stepped up to fill driver positions – (only if competent to pass driving tests etc.) Some people are available at age 55, 60, 65 and quite competent.
    Parents – if local businesses would advocate employees as school bus drive once a month, once a week whatever suits as a community service.
    Here is a story that was on CBS of former FBI agent that now drives a school bus for autistic children in his community – and considers it the most fulfilling and best job to be had. He said bus drivers are “transporting the future of America,” and deserve more credit for their work. https://www.msn.com/en-us/money/careersandeducation/this-retired-fbi-agent-became-a-school-bus-driver-after-watching-the-labor-shortage-crush-his-community/ar-AAPyFC2

  5. This starts at the top. Endless stimulus and unemployment benefits have taken away the incentive for many to work. The government created this mess. Not just Biden, Trump too. But Biden’s in charge now and he has to own this. The same situation has also put us in a mess where we have shortages of everything and low skill jobs now pay $15 an hour. That sounds great until you realize that the common consumer is the one paying that $15 an hour as inflation goes through the roof. Going from minimum wage to $15 an hour does no good if all your expenses just doubled.

  6. What tha bus! Lol! People want to blame everything on something other than what it is, ” a shortage of bus drivers”. Now ask yourself, would there be a shortage of bus drivers if everybody took their butt down there to drive? But wait, they would want to blame it on the kids being too bad. Then they would blame it on the pay. So it becomes somebody else’s problem but in reality it’s everybody’s problem. People feel they should just get more money just because they don’t want to do a certain job. All of a sudden everybody is too good to do a simple job. I drove a bus full-time and part-time and it was a great experience. I enjoyed the kids and the other drivers and the system itself.

    Some people can’t do it, even if they paid them a whole bunch of money and gave them benefits. At least that’s what they would say. Some of y’all need to just take your butt to work.

  7. This problem is a state legislature problem. Acquiring a CDL has become extremely expensive and time consuming. The regulatory aspect is completely out of of control.

    1. The problem is our second welfare system called unemployment. Why work if the government pays you not to work. End the new unemployment welfare system and people will have to work. Go back to 6 months unemployment and that’s it.

      1. I agree, no wants to work or be responsible. That’s why kids are bad and people don’t want to drive a bus. Just making matters worse. Lazy people making lazy decisions.
        And government giving you a check.

  8. The best way to get more drivers is to pay them more money.
    It is a Class B license, not difficult to obtain, but the early morning few hours and late afternoon few hours are a difficult position to fill.
    Especially when the pay is low.
    The drivers have the responsibility of all of the children’s lives, twice a day.
    Raise their pay, add benefits and bonuses, and the problem will be solved quicker than you think.
    I am sure there is some administrative overlap or redundancy that could be trimmed or cut to pay for the difference.
    Yes, some administrative personnel could get less pay, or cut, but that would/could solve the problem.
    In my opinion.

    1. Just curious what administrative personal you would cut or at least cut their pay. I wonder what job they do that isn’t important enough the employer could just cut their pay and not risk them saying…. see ya! I’m sure your assuming they are overpaid to begin with. I’m not really familiar with this private contractors structure but what is it you believe you know enough about these peoples pay that determines it should be cut. I’m genuinely curious why people think everything should just be cut or redirect money else where without repercussions when there are already issues.

      1. Assistants, secretary, HR.
        Do something, start somewhere, start now.
        Raise the most needed. Give them more work(more pay), cut the fat.
        The education system in general is sick with this type of too many administrators and not enough working people.
        If the construction or manufacturing industries wanted the time and mo ey that the school systems do, very little would get build or made.
        Prove otherwise.
        These are facts.

        1. Well in all fairness you made the statements so I was asking you. Plus you are also referring to the school when this is a private company. You clearly have a grudge against any form of government which is fine but we are talking about a private company here. You redirected from the discussion. I’m pretty sure your general concept of thought is private good because they are lean and government bad because they are fat. This is a lean private company that is being discussed that isn’t able to make things work seamlessly here so I guess something isn’t adding up about cutting all this fat. Maybe there isn’t any?

          1. No, you are incorrect, and that is fine. There is excess waste in private as well as public.
            They are a contractor for the school. They are in charge of their pay structure, and the amount they charge the school for their services.
            I do know that most drivers in general, class A and class B, do not get enough pay for the responsibility that they have, or the physical and mental problems that can arise from driving for a living.
            Not to mention the safety of the other drivers on the road or the safety of the cargo, in this case, our children.
            Do you work for this company? I will not assume what you know, think, or do. I will say, and do know for a fact, that more pay and better benefits for a bus driving job will get more interested and qualified applicants.

    2. I know in Texas it is increasingly difficult to obtain a CDL B license. You are actually taking the required basic 18 wheeler written tests plus passenger and school bus written tests, so 5 tests in total. Then once you pass those, you receive your learners permit and can finally get behind the wheel. Typically have 90 days and 3 chances to pass driving portion which includes changing lanes in reverse, parallel parking and complete description of under the hood as well as walking around the bus with a few things under the bus. So the true difference between a B and an A is weight class.
      Yes, I am a school bus driver in my 5th yr.

  9. I wouldn’t worry about the driver shortage as much as I would Durham as a whole.
    I don’t think maintenance and safety is very high on their list.
    I think it’s time BISD go back to owning and operating there own busses. It’s got to be cheaper? Durham is not in this to loose money or break even. So cut out their profits and BISD will save money???

    1. Pateke, you are most definitely right. I hear that end of year bonuses for GMs are quite generous. Stay under budget, get rewarded = spend little to nothing on maintenance, etc., get a fat check.

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