Kris Gordon, Ryan Reusch, Chad Thompson and Steve Steiner are not bus drivers by trade.
But last summer all four Henderson County Schools administrators began courses to become certified to drive school buses for the school district.
Getting certified was a bit more intense than what was expected, Steiner said. He said it’s not like studying for a driver’s license as a 16-year-old.
All four finished studying and testing, earning their certification this fall. Steiner said he completed his certification in November.
Now, the four are regularly behind the wheel of a school system bus. Steiner said each average about one run a week, filling in for sick drivers mostly.
He said it was “a need” that had to be fulfilled. Some bus drivers regularly take on double- and triple-runs, he said.
“It’s not an easy job for our bus drivers to get up and do that every day,” Steiner said. “If we can help, we need to.”
Steiner is officially retired from Central Office, but he works two to three days a week as a consultant there. Gordon is the school system’s director of technology; Reusch is the director of administration; and Thompson is the assistant superintendent of secondary teaching and learning.
School bus driver shortage is a problem throughout the nation, Kentucky, and in Henderson County. In Jefferson County, problems with bus drivers and routes forced that district’s superintendent to close school for several days at the beginning of the school year until the problems could be rectified.
In Henderson County, the full brunt of bus driver shortage was felt a week before school opened this past summer. Then, the school system made an initial decision to stop providing bus service to students living within the area from Sand Land to Washington Street and Alvasia Street to Atkinson Street. Parents of students living in that area and others were angered with the decision, and the school system began searching for a way to provide buses in that area.
City and county government partnered with the school system. The city of Henderson provided a Hart bus to take a morning route that would take students to South Heights Elementary School. County government provided an employee with past bus driving experience to take the afternoon route.
Henderson County Schools Superientendent Bob Lawson said teh county employee is no longer driving the afternoon route, and the four new bus drivers often take it.
Although the four new drivers are helping, the school system is in constant need of more. Lawson said he hopes the four administrative bus drivers might be a sign of encouragement for others in the school system to take on the additional task of driving a bus.
Lawson said it could be a way for some teachers or other employees to earn more money. He said the extra salary could total more than $10,000 extra per year.
The four new bus drivers—Gordon, Reusch, Thompson and Steiner—though, aren’t receiving any additional pay, Lawson said, adding they exemplify “authentic service to all.”
“They’ve done it just out of pure service,” Lawson said. “(They are) setting a fantastic example.”