Poplar Bluff School Dist. invites public to test drive a school bus

The public was invited to test drive school buses in an effort to fill open positions in the...
The public was invited to test drive school buses in an effort to fill open positions in the Poplar Bluff School District.(KFVS)
Published: Jul. 8, 2021 at 8:22 PM CDT|Updated: Jul. 10, 2021 at 11:16 PM CDT
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POPLAR BLUFF, Mo. (KFVS) - Have you ever wanted to get behind the wheel of a school bus just to see what it’s like?

Some people had the chance on Saturday, July 10.

About 10 people stopped by the Poplar Bluff School District to drive a school bus around campus to get a feel for it.

Transportation Director Ronnie Martin said this was a good opportunity for people to test drive a school bus with a trainer in a closed parking lot.

“Everyone that I’ve been on the bus with, within just a couple of minutes were like, ‘Wow, this was a lot easier than I thought,’” Martin said. “Even though the bus was big, they’re telling me they can see a lot better than they would be able to out of the bus and the bus doesn’t seem to be as intimidating to them once they drove it just a few feet.”

Diane Reagin was one person trying her hand at driving a school bus. She said it was easier than it looks.

“I enjoyed it a lot. It was simple. I guess from sitting in the back, you don’t pay attention to the driver and how they are doing it but it’s really simple,” she said.

The school district invited the public to test drive a bus as a new way to recruit more drivers.

“We are seeing a great need for school bus drivers,” Ronnie Martin said.

Ronnie Martin said he sees the driver shortage all across the state.

“Drivers retiring, drivers taking better jobs because of the economy being better and better paying jobs,” Martin said.

He hoped to get more people interested in the job on Saturday during the district’s first-ever school bus test drive event.

Nathan Mitchell is going into his fifth year of driving a bus for the school district. He had some advice for those on the fence about the job.

“Don’t be scared, it’s a big vehicle, you might be afraid of running into something, don’t let that hold you back... it’s a wonderful job,” Mitchell said.

Mitchell explained the challenges of being short staffed.

“We’ll have to add routes to our route so it’s kind of frustrating just a little bit,” he said.

Drivers must obtain a Class B CDL License. The district’s goal is to hire eight more people.

“You will not leave there without the information you need to become a school bus driver,” Martin said on Thursday.

They got a realistic taste of what bus drivers do on a daily basis.

The participants were paired up with a driver trainer to help teach them the basics when it comes to driving the bus.

Once they were in the driver’s seat, they needed to make sure their mirrors were properly adjusted and their seat was in a comfortable driving position.

At the end of their trip, they had to make sure no students were left on the bus and then they headed to the back and pressed the reset button to complete the child check process.

“If you have any interest in becoming a bus driver for your local school district, regardless of the town you live in or the size of your school district. Please reach out to your school district,” he said.

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