School bus company recruits new drivers, educates families

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JEFFERSON CITY - Bus drivers from First Student transportation company say they have plenty of positive stories about their experiences Jefferson City routes.

“It’s not as intimidating as it seems,” Randy Taylor said.

Patty Rodwick said, “It’s like you’re a celebrity.”

The drivers and other First Student officials were at the Capital Mall on Thursday to recruit, interview and possibly hire new drivers, as well as educate families on the safety benefits of school buses.

First Student Location Manager Frank Underwood said people go through 52 hours of training before they can become drivers, and, after they start driving, they go through an additional 12 hours of training every month.

In addition to learning how to drive and park the buses, drivers receive training in working with special needs students and learn how to handle emergency situations and bullying.

Underwood said drivers go through the long training process because of the extra requirements of the job.

“This isn’t just coming in and driving a bus, it’s coming in and building relationships with your students and building relationships with your schools,” Underwood said.

A First Student press release said school buses are the safest way for students to travel to and from school.

While not all students have seatbelts in First Student buses, Underwood said the compact structure of the seats protects student in the event of a crash. He said some buses have seatbelts available for disabled and younger students.

Underwood said, with back-to-school season coming up, all drivers need to be cautious while driving.

“It’s all of our responsibility to be aware. If you see a school bus, guess what, it may be stopping here anytime shortly. And so be aware, be conscious of what’s going on,” Underwood said.

First Student hosts job fairs every month and said it hires people year-round, Underwood said.