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Smith addresses hiring process for bus drivers

By Staff | Feb 9, 2011

Transportation and Maintenance Director for Tyler County Schools Troy Smith addressed the Tyler County Board of Education Monday evening, Feb. 14 concerning the hiring process for school bus drivers.

The process, Smith stated, is rather involved. “There is currently a shortage of drivers across the state,” he said. “Tyler County is fortunate to have good drivers. There is not a lot of turnaround in the department.”

In order to qualify as a school bus driver for the county, applicants must complete an application, pass a background check, go through the interview process, and complete at least 40 hours of classroom training. Drivers must obtain a class “B” CDL license as well as train for a minimum of 12 hours actual driving time. This training includes night driving, interstate and backroads driving. “The process can be lengthy,” added Smith. “We have one driver-trainer in Tyler County,” he added. Smith feels that one driver-trainer is sufficient for the county. Driver-trainers are re-certified with training every two years. The board will be considering applications for substitute bus drivers in the coming months. “We need to keep hiring good people for the ‘sub’ list,” commented board member Jimmy Wyatt. Some sub-list employees have been on the call list for four or five years, and have preferred hiring status for full-time positions as they open up. A call for interested candidates for training as a substitute bus driver is currently posted on the Tyler County Board of Education’s website. Deadline for applications is February 21 at 4 p.m. For more information concerning the qualifications needed, go to www.tylercountyboardofeducation.org.

“Can a driver be hired from another area if he or she has been certified in the state?” questioned board member Larry Thomas. Smith agreed that the hiring was possible, although “I would still want them to go through the 12 hour driver training course,” he added. Cost to the individual applicants run around $185 for background checks, license fees and certification. Smith noted that once hired, approximately $150 was refunded. The fee spent on the background check is not reimbursed.

Tyler County currently operates 27 regular school bus routes and 3 special needs buses. In the upcoming school year, 26 regular routes will be operating due to consolidation of one route, along with the 3 special needs transports. Tyler County school buses travel around 270,000 miles a year. The board thanked Smith for his report and praised the department for a job well done.

Representatives from the Tyler County Public Library and Sistersville Public Library also addressed the board Monday evening. Rosanne Eastham and Carol Kucharski came before the board to request funding be continued for the Tyler County Public Library for the upcoming fiscal year.

“First, we want to thank you for your support in the past,” Ms. Eastham stated. “Without your help, we wouldn’t be able to operate. We appreciate you.” Eastham then went on to detail many of the library’s programs and functions in the community. “The library is not just a storage house for books,” she remarked. “In this depressed economy, many people rely on the library as a place to search for employment, take online classes and apply for positions. It’s not feasible for many residents to drive to Sistersville or New Martinsville libraries due to the cost of gas and the distance travelled.” Eastham further noted that the Middlebourne library serves the needs of pre-schoolers, providing a venue for a once a month for story time and crafts. “The preschool teachers bring the students over an hour before the library opens,” she said. “This makes our library an extended classroom setting.”

The board last year funded $7,000 of the library’s operating costs, which is part of local funds needed to match or exceed the maximum grant-in-aid established for the library. The Tyler County Library will receive a $16,866 grant for the fiscal year ending in June, 2011. Based on this figure, the library should receive matching funding from local taxing authorities. Along with the board’s $7,000 pledge, Tyler County Commission dedicated $2,000 in funding for the previous year. However, the Town of Middlebourne allocated no funding for the institution, making the monetary objective $8,000 short of it’s goal. Eastham stressed that the Tyler County Library is a vital resource to the community. “In the long run, we help by providing a more knowledgeable workforce for employers, which draws new businesses into the area.”

Heather Weekley of the Sistersville Public Library also requested that the board continue in its financial support. “We are not asking for an increase,” she noted. “We are simply asking for (the board) to allocate monetarily as in years before.” Weekley also presented board members with an overview of the library’s programs and functions and thanked the board for their commitment to help provide services to the townspeople of Sistersville. The Sistersville Public library provides such services as access to a fax machine, printers, laminator, copier and microfilm reader, free wireless internet, access to four in-house computers and tax forms, assistance with resumes and online job applications. “Whatever we can do to help our users, we try to do,” commented Weekley.

“The board will do what it can to help,” said member Larry Thomas. “We will consider your requests as we go over our budget. We want to support you.”

In other matters, the board approved the minutes of the faculty senate report, and approved three requests, including permission to use the TCHS auditorium on April 30 for 4-H Show and Tell Day, submitted by Extension Agent Christy Richmond.

Two personnel transfers were also approved by the board.

All members of the board, as well as Superintendent Robin Daquilante, were present at the meeting. The next regular meeting of the Tyler County Board of Education will be held Monday, Feb. 21 at 7 p.m. at the board office, located inside Tyler Consolidated High School.