Written by on April 2, 2019

We encourage those interested in making a difference in the lives of children to stop into the Shenendehowa Transportation Department on the main campus and pick up a driver application, or call the transportation department at 881-0240.

Like many districts across New York State, Shenendehowa is experiencing a severe school bus driver shortage.  Shen owns and maintains more than 200 buses with a staff of 270 highly-trained and dedicated employees who provide safe and efficient transportation service for more than 10,300 students.

Driving a school bus is a great occupation for those looking for full or part-time work because:

  • The starting pay is $20
  • The work schedule is flexible
  • Full or part-time employees may be eligible to receive health benefits
  • Training for the CDL license is provided by district
  • It makes a difference in the lives of children

While the district has approximately 40 full-time bus drivers, the majority of drivers and bus attendants are part-time employees.  This makes it a great fit for retirees, stay at home parents, college students, or anyone looking to supplement his or her income.

A benefit of being a school bus driver is the flexibility of the daily work schedule.  As a Shen bus driver for 4 years, Lisa Williams says that “one of the biggest benefits for me, as a mom, is that I get all the school holidays, vacations, snow days and summers off,” she says.  “I didn’t have to find alternate daycare.” Shen employees work flexible schedules, from as little as two hours per day to as many eight hours per day for a senior driver.

Employees who attain 20 or more hours of permanent work per week become eligible to receive health benefits.   Shen bus driver Brian Evans is an independent real estate agent and who didn’t have benefits. He says “I paid out-of-pocket health care coverage for two years and it was very expensive. “   After approximately four months of training, he became a permanent driver.  “This is a part-time job that offers full benefits, and it works perfectly into my schedule. The trainers are very thorough. They certainly prepare you for your state test and well above.”

School bus drivers receive approximately 75 hours of classroom and behind-the-wheel training. This occurs over a 27-day period for 2-3 hours per day. Lisa Williams feels the training prepared her well.  She says that before driving a bus, she wouldn’t even drive other children in her child’s preschool class on field trips.  “The training program was so great.  They start you out slowly, so it’s not overwhelming.”

Mike McGlauflin encourages anyone who is thinking about working as a driver to try it.  He remembers the first time he sat in the driver’s seat.   “I saw all that bus in front of me and all that bus behind me and thought how am I going to drive this?  But now I prefer a bus to the car.  People ask how I like driving in the bad weather.  It’s the ride to and from work that I don’t like because I’m in my car.”

The school transportation profession is one segment of the local economy that few people know about.  Forty-nine percent of employees have a college education, from Certificates to Master degrees. Seventeen percent of drivers are retirees from a variety of professions including law enforcement, state agencies, executives, engineers, teachers, firefighters, and business owners.  The staff is made up of 53% females and 47% males, as well as a mix of first-generation immigrants from within our community.

Besides great pay and benefits, the most important benefit for school transportation professionals is the satisfaction of being a positive role model for the children that they serve.   These professionals have a daily impact on the educational experience of our students. They are often the first school employee they see in the morning and the last one they see in the afternoon.  They don’t take that responsibility lightly.

For Mike McGlauflin, driving a school bus is a family affair, his father was a driver too.  “Why do I keep driving?  Because of the kids.  You feel like you are making an impact. I run into kids who still remember me.  When my son went to Shen, he was the cool kid because his dad was Mr. Mike the Bus Driver.”

For Lisa Williams, driving has helped her get to know the community better, learning where the streets and parks are, getting to know the parents, and forming a bond with the kids.  “They trust you, and they joke around with you.  It’s fun to see them start in September and watch all the growth by the end of the year.  And each year is different. “

We encourage those interested in making a difference in the lives of children to stop into the Shenendehowa Transportation Department on the main campus and pick up a driver applications. We also hold an annual “Drive a Bus Day” where those who are interested can stop by and test drive a bus in the parking lot with a trainer.

“You just have to try it,” says Lisa Williams.  “Come meet us.  We will walk you through it, and you will learn everything you need to learn.  It’s worth the effort. As they say, life begins at the end of your comfort zone.”