INDEPENDENCE COUNTY, AR (KAIT) - The University of Arkansas Community College at Batesville is hosting a summer training course for school bus drivers.
Right now, there's an increased demand for school bus drivers in Independence County.
"We're using all hands on deck at Cave City," said Steven Green, superintendent of Cave City School District. 'My coaches drive buses in the offseason, and I've had my athletic director, transportation director and principals fill in. I have three and a half routes open right now."
Dewayne Wammack, superintendent of the Midland School District, said his routes are covered. However, there's a lack of substitute drivers available.
"It is a high need area," Wammack said. "We need qualified people to drive our buses. That's our first aspect of safety to get our kids to and from school. It's a very important position. They're the first person the kids see every day. They set the mood for the kids for the day."
The course will begin in July under the following schedule:
- In-class training from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. July 12-13 at UACCB
- The written exam portion of the course from 9-11:30 a.m. or 1-2 p.m. on July 14-15 at the Independence County Library
- Driving practice will be held July 18-19
- The driving test portion can be taken August 2-4 at Sulphur Rock Elementary
The driving exam is a two-hour test taught by CDL-certified instructors Robbie Cox and Greg Armstrong.
The total cost of the course is $210 which includes the course fee, driving test and Arkansas Department of Revenue study packet and written test.
Students are required to bring the study pack to the first class.
A Social Security card or passport is required to purchase the revenue office packet.
A physical is also required to obtain an Arkansas license.
"Students will cover what will be on the written exam during in-class training, and we will have a mock course set up for the driving portion to help students practice for the state test," said Zach Harber, director of workforce development and education.
Harber, a former bus driver for the Batesville School District, understands the need for drivers.
"We need courteous, friendly, safe bus drivers to transport our children to and from school," he said. "I enjoyed greeting the kids each morning and evening. Since I was the first and last school employee to see them each day, I felt like I could have a positive influence in the lives of my bus riders."
Southside School District Superintendent Roger Rich said his district would consider helping with the cost of the course for interest parties who cannot afford the course fee.
"We are in dire need just like everyone else. We currently have two positions open, and substitute drivers are greatly needed," Rich said.
For more information or to register for the course, contact Zach Harber by phone at 870-612-2081 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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