Driving a Bus More Than Just Getting Behind Wheel

Driving a school bus means more than just getting behind a wheel. (Photo by Pat Blair)

During the school week, bus drivers for Sheridan County School District 1 log about 850 miles a day.

But Lori Thornburg, who's the district's transportation coordinator, said driving a bus is about more than just getting behind the wheel.

Thornburg said a team is needed to educate a student, and the bus driver is part of that team – the first person many students see in the morning, and the last they see when school is done.

Then there's the training to qualify as a bus driver. Thornburg said a school bus driver must have a commercial driver's license. To do that, she said, the person must first get a learner's permit, then must spend at least 30 hours of training both in the classroom and behind the wheel.

Then,she said, the driver initially spends time in the company of an already trained driver.

Thornburg said Sheridan County School District 1 hires its own school bus drivers. She said that can cause problems, because Sheridan County doesn't have a huge employee pool to draw from, because the economy here is so good.

She said both county school districts 1 and 2 draw from the same pool of drivers, so School District 1 is usually short of drivers. But, she said, the two districts try to help each other.

Rear view mirror helps driver keep an eye on the bus' passengers. (Photo by Pat Blair)