During a Tuesday morning meeting, Camdenton R-III board members officially declared a critical shortage of bus drivers available for the district.

During a Tuesday morning meeting, Camdenton R-III board members officially declared a critical shortage of bus drivers available for the district.

With over 80 buses in the fleet, the need for full-time drivers is ever rising. However, this declaration is actually the first step in aiding the issue. A new provision through the school’s retirement allows for the district to increase salary and work time to retirees working as bus drivers.

Currently, if the district is not under an officially declared shortage, retired personnel may only work for a limited number of hours as a driver. This has been an issue for Camdenton, as it leaves them with less driver options once hours have been used. Under the declaration, as long as the retiree's CDL licensing is valid, they may work full time.

Earlier in the year, transportation director Gary Cuendet and his fleet team completed their annual bus fleet inspections and secured, for the 20th year in a row, an excellent rating from the Missouri Department of Transportation inspection team out of Jefferson City. To obtain the fleet excellence award, the department must achieve a 90 percent or better on the overall inspection. The lowest score the crew has had over the last 20 years is a 96.9 percent. This year’s fleet achieved a perfect 100 percent rating, which is the 13th instance of perfection in the two decade span.

Superintendent Tim Hadfield is aware of the fleet’s success and hopes to use this to pull in new drivers. He says that the school has a great benefit package and pay rate that should be more than enough to incentivize new drivers to come work for the district. However, he says that many times, it’s the tough time frame throughout the work day that can cause problems with recruitment.

To officially declare the shortage, the district had to have advertised for the position for over a month and still have remaining vacancies. The district will continue to look for new employment until the declaration expires. The declaration will last for 24 months and in this time, all employment increases to retirees will remain active.

“The job is for a specific type of person,” Hadfield said. “We hope to bring in as many new drivers during this time as possible.”