Cecil's school buses do more than just take students back and forth to class.
The buses make an additional 3,500 trips a year taking students on field trips, to sporting events, and to participate in other extra-curricular activities.
According to Vanessa Briddell, Supervisor of Transportation for Cecil County Public Schools, there is a consistent need for substitute drivers. Both within the system's pool of eight drivers and seven attendants and for the bus contractors. "We need subs when a driver calls out or someone gets sick. People get viruses working around kids," she said.
Bus drivers are always needed. To fulfill all the requirements, it's a two month process for new drivers from application to being road ready. For those who have been certified elsewhere, the time may be slightly less. The requirements for drivers include: licensed driver for minimum of five years, at least 21 years old, must have a criminal background and child registry check, Department of Transportation physical, drug/alcohol testing, and attend training.
Drivers are paid according to their years of experience behind the wheel. Briddell said it's an ideal job for someone attending college, and those who want to be off work when their children are off school. Drivers work three to six hours per day.
"Nationwide and countywide there is a need for bus drivers. We go to some job fairs. Drivers are always needed," said Briddell. Those who want the job have to like children and be kind and patient. "You are working with other people's children. It's the world's most precious cargo. You have the equivalent of two classrooms on the bus," she said. "The school bus is an extension of the classroom." There are 242 drivers employed by the system and contractors.
Briddell brings a vast amount of experience to the job. Her parents were bus contractors in Delaware and she began starting buses for her parents at age 11.
She has been a driver, attendant, contractor, and supervisor. She is also the 2001 School Bus Contractor Safe Driving Champion in Delaware.