BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — The 2019-20 school year is only a week old, but the Kern High School District is already preparing for the 2020-21 school year.
The school district is looking to hire substitute bus drivers for this year so that they can become experienced drivers for the Kern High School District and ready for their own routes next school year.
Amorette Hartman is a driving instructor at Kern High School District. She instructs new bus driver Xochitl Arteaga saying, “When it’s safe you’ll move the bus.”
School bus drivers, they see our students first thing in the morning and are the last to see them when drivers drop students off after school.
“Brings you joy just to know each children,” said Arteaga. “You see them every day. Maybe they’re having a bad day and you say good morning to them, smile to them and that will make them feel better.”
KHSD hired Arteaga this summer.
Arteaga said, “I wanted something different career wise. I was tired of sitting behind a desk. Now I’m behind a wheel, but at least now I get to move around town.”
The KHSD is looking for over 20 new school bus drivers to start the training now to be ready for the 2020-21 school year.
Jason Fowler is the KHSD transportation director. He said those extra drivers are needed for new routes expected with the opening of the Career and Technology Education School this year and the new high school opening in 2022.
“Working to try to stay ahead of that housing growth,” said Fowler. “Each year we experience a fairly sizable number of growth that even effect the transportation department.”
Fowler said the district is currently staffed with permanent bus drivers for this school year, but needs more substitute drivers to fill in; then more drivers for the next school year. He said the growth in his department is also opening up jobs in other related areas.
“The vehicle maintenance field, where we’ll need additional mechanics, service mechanics, office staff,” said Fowler.
He continued, “The training process is fairly lengthy. It’s best if we can get them in early. We get them trained. Begin to hire them then as a substitute driver. They get better acquainted with our fleet, better acquainted with the area, the routes. And going into the next school year we have a solid group of drivers who are comfortable with our home to school route.”
Hartman said that year worth of experience is critical because of the special cargo these bus drivers deliver.
“We’re transporting in the bus other people’s children,” said Hartman. “And they’re relying on us to keep our kids safe. They want to know when that child walks out the door every day, that that child is going to be returned home safely, everyday.”
Hartman said training starts with a click of the seat belt, to a couple of trips around the bus yard, until they are ready to drive the big yellow bus on the streets.
“We start from the people who have never been in anything other than a class-C vehicle," said Hartman. "And by the time we’re done they have more knowledge and they’re better drivers not only in their personal vehicles, but in the school bus.”
Fowler said the best way to apply is in person at their transportation headquarters at 3701 East Belle Terrace. Applicants will need a copy of their driving record and driver’s license. He also said applicants can apply online at www.KernHigh.org.
For a new bus drivers like Arteaga she said if someone is thinking about applying, to do it. And she’s already seeing the improvement behind the wheel.
“It’s something different it’s, once you get used to it, it’s like driving a car," said Arteaga. "And it makes you way more safer driving than you would normally be safe.”
For more information about applying you can call the transportation headquarters 661–827–3199.