RPSB creating new buddy system to address bus driver vacancies
RAPIDES PARISH, La. (KALB) - With the start of a new school year, there are usually a few logistical issues that arise. That was the case for the Rapides Parish School Board in 2021. However, according to RPSB’s director of transportation, it seems like many of those issues have not reappeared for the 2022-2023 school year.
RPSB’s Director of Transportation, Leron Baptiste, has had a bit more time to adjust this school year, having joined the school board staff with one week left of the 2021 summer and a brand new bus routing system in place. With new routes came a new bidding process for drivers, which altogether led to a rough start for all parties involved, including covering routes and the flow of information to the public.
“Without 100% information integrity, you can’t have the coverage,” said Baptiste. “Because if you don’t know who the people are, you can’t pick them up. So, that has improved by leaps and bounds.”
Overall, the same drivers are covering the same areas of the parish this year, and even if there is a different driver, the routes remain the same.
“This year, because of just some of the training pieces and some of the experiences that we have, from growth experiences from the previous year, that coverage is better,” explained Baptiste.
The biggest change this year comes from RPSB’s attempt to address the coverage concerns of a potential shortage of drivers. Baptiste says they have begun a buddy system with their existing drivers, creating an easily accessible backup system to ensure all routes are covered at all times.
“Although we do realize that there is a shortage, we’re also trying to generate our own,” said Baptiste. “So, if we can’t, you know, if there’s no one knocking on the door, we do have people in-house that are prepared to do that.”
They have also begun offering bus operating classes throughout the year to coaches and non-teaching employees, which is all part of the effort to create a larger bank of substitute drivers within the parish.
Those interested in signing up for a bus operating class can call the Rapides Parish School Board at (318) 487-0888.
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