Along with masks and social distancing, add school bus delays to the list of pandemic-related aggravations for Clark County students and parents.
A shortage of 200 drivers is causing chronic delays as the Clark County School District returns this fall to in-person education.
What’s behind the shortage and what can be done to address it? A former bus driver says the work culture has changed.
“There was respect with parents and the kids and management, and it's changed,” said Denise Chandler Bassett, who began her career driving for the district in 1989. "Every day a parent will yell at us, tell you that they pay your paycheck because they pay taxes."
Even as the district actively seeks to fill its bus driver slots (click here to apply), the head of a union representing CCSD bus drivers said the current situation with late buses, inconvenienced students and drivers, and angry parents is a "big mess."
"It's a time for everybody to be talking to each other, not yelling at each other," said Fred Horvath, secretary-treasurer of Teamsters Local 14.
Horvath said the union has the drivers’ backs while it works to become their authorized representative, a process that has taken years.
“We're representing them and their interests exactly like we would if we had a contract,” Horvath told State of Nevada. “We will get there. We're just absolutely confident we will get there. We're very close, literally within less than 200 people.”
He said drivers, like many Southern Nevada government employees, endured years of going without raises or better benefits as the region’s economy clawed back from the Great Recession.
“This is a very, very dispirited group. They've had an amazingly difficult ride, and their wages and working conditions, their health benefits are so substandard,” Horvath said. “It's really really difficult to come to work every day and we're seeing that.”
Horvath also said that a national shortage of commercial drivers, who need additional training and medical clearances, adds to the school district’s challenges.
“That (job) market today across the country and, absolutely, in Southern Nevada is red hot, “There are employers searching for CDL drivers desperately to the tune of $200, $500, $5,000, even $10,000 signing bonuses.”
A representative of the Clark County School District was not able to participate in the discussion.
Fred Horvath, secretary-treasurer, Teamsters Local 14; Denise Chandler Bassett, former school bus driver, Clark County School District