PRINCE GEORGE, VA (WWBT) – Substitute bus drivers are in high demand in Prince George County. There's a shortage, which has led to longer wait times for students and extra routes for full-time drivers.
The school district is hoping to double the number of substitute drivers it has from 5 to 10. That may not sound like a lot but school leaders say the increase would better help students get to and from school on time.
When a full time driver calls out sick the district relies on substitute drivers to step in and get behind the wheel.
"We need substitutes on a daily basis. We need at least 2 or 3 daily. For our regular fleet drivers if we don't have enough substitutes that means kids will be late getting home that afternoon," said Ronald Rhodes, Director of Transportation.
Without substitute drivers, fleet drivers have to double back -- finishing their route and picking up another.
"Many of our substitute drivers right now have full time jobs - so they can only work when they're off from their full time jobs," said Rhodes.
Ted Jonas is one of the newest substitute school bus drivers in the county. He's been on the job less than a month.
"Next week I'm on what's called standby where I come in at 6 - driver calls in at the last minute, and says 'hey I can't drive', then they put me on the route," said Jonas.
Becoming a substitute bus driver requires rigorous training, background checks, a commercial driver's license and more.
"24 hours in the classroom. Going through all the state mandates and regulations they have to learn," said Rhodes.
It's time consuming, for occasional work, which may be part of the reason why some turn away from the job opening - even, in a tight economy.
"It's a strong commitment to give up your day for a few hours in the morning and a few hours in the afternoon," said Rhodes.
As for Jonas he says it's worth it. He's hopeful some of the open slots will be filled sooner rather than later.
If you're interested in learning more about becoming a substitute school bus driver in Prince George County contact the school board office. The pay for a substitute bus driver is about ten dollars an hour.