KCS transportation staff keeps the wheels turning, despite shortage of drivers

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By Flyer Staff

 


113,000 gallons of diesel fuel used each year and over 77,000 trip miles travelled, the Kettering City Schools Transportation department is always on the move.

The district owns 78 school buses and six school vans to cover all transportation needs. The average cost of a new bus is $87,000 and the average for a new handicap lift bus is $102,000. 

Todd Silverthorn, Supervisor of Transportation Services for KCS, oversees the entire fleet of bus drivers, aides, mechanics and office staff. 

“We transport nearly 5,300 students daily,” he said. “We have 68 full-time drivers and four substitute drivers.”

The Transportation Department also has three mechanics, two dispatchers, one secretary and an assistant supervisor. 

“We have 68 routes that run daily,” he said. “The biggest obstacle we face on a daily basis is how to cover all routes and to get students to and from school on time.”

As the year has progressed, many students, staff and community members have noticed what seems to be a shortage of drivers in the district. Oftentimes delayed routes or missing drivers prompts citizens to take to Facebook or social media to express their concerns. 

“We do have a shortage of drivers,” Silverthorn said. “We have our daily call offs due to illness and staff on extended leave for surgeries.”

Silverthorn also attributes the shortage to the boost in our economy. 

“Years prior when the economy wasn’t doing so well, we had people interested in working a part-time job to make ends meet,” he said. “Nowadays, we have a lot more full-time jobs out there and it is hard to compete with.”

There has also been a decline in interest from retirees according to Silvethorn. This is why sub drivers play a vital role in keeping the buses rolling on normal routes, field trips and athletic trips. 

“We have at times relied on our staff to double up and take on other responsibilities to help the department,” he said. 

To be a substitute driver in Kettering, the following are required: FBI and BCI&I background checks, Permit Test, Class B CDL and PS endorsements, T8 physical exam, Pre-employment FMCSA drug test, minimum of 20 hours behind the wheel training with a trainer, pre-trip inspection/driving skills/on road test with a CDL examiner and 15 hours of pre-service class (bus driving school). 

Even with the shortage of drivers and need for subs, the KCS Transportation staff goes above and beyond … even outside of their district duties. 

“In May of 2019, our staff members teamed up to help with tornado relief,” he said. “We did a ‘stuff the bus’ event and filled six buses full of supplies and clothing that we delivered to the Harrison Township area.”

In a district the size of Kettering, transportation requires a lot more than meets the eye and it relies heavily on each and every staff member. 

“Kettering transportation staff are amazing people,” he said. “They have the biggest hearts and most are willing to give the shirt off of their back for their students.”

For more information on KCS Transportation, visit: https://www.ketteringschools.org/Administration/32