by Lisa Tome
Come September 4, Becky Minks may wish she could clone herself.
Minks, who works for Marshall Bus, said last week that there are about eight openings for school bus drivers at that bus company.
"We have seven in training. Will they all be licensed by September 4? No," said Minks.
"We have the coverage. It will be a little tight this year. And it gets a little stressful at times," said Minks. "If I don't have good drivers, we have others who will help out. But our priority is to have good drivers on the road, even if it's only temporarily."
Minks said the bus compa- ny hasn't yet received the bus routes for the school year. That adds to the stress.
Starting pay for drivers is $16.50 - $17 per hour. The work day is about 4.5 hours. "If you love kids, it's a great job," said Minks.
Joe Gilbert at Gilbert Bus said he's short one driver this year. "They are in the training process. Motor Vehicle Ad- ministration is running be- hind with getting drivers trained. And we're at one driver trainer now, trying to get them all trained," said Gil-
Gilbert said the Board of Education took steps to ease some of the burden on bus contractors this year. Gilbert said they hired a contractor which will handle field trips. But middle school athletics starts this year. "We don't know the schedule for those yet," he said.
Gilbert said that for the most part, his company, which pays drivers about $16 per hour to start, is ready for the new school year. "We got inspected last Monday. We're good to roll," said Gilbert.
Ann Dvorak at Dvorak Bus, said as far as she knows, the 18 buses at that company have drivers this school year. "We have drivers coming back. We're hoping they're all coming back. We had one leave two days before school started. She changed her mind. That sets you in a panic," said Dvorak.
Drivers at Dvorak's earn $16.69 per hour for a four hour work day.
"We have adequate subs. We have two this year. I'm not ready for school to start. I need extra time. I think we're ready for inspection next week. But we're ready to get back on the road," said Dvorak.