SHREVEPORT, La (KTAL/KMSS) – Following a “sick out” and weeks of complaints from Caddo’s school bus drivers, the superintendent addresses the problems within the transportation department.
Dr. Lamar Goree held a news conference on Tuesday morning, to discuss ways to resolve drivers’ issues.
Here is a look at what Caddo Parish Public Schools shared with the media:
Caddo Parish Public Schools is committed to meeting the needs of students and that begins with the highest quality staff in every department. As part of that mission, Caddo has been working with Transportation Department employees to address issues and ways to increase efficiencies within the district’s fleet of nearly 300 buses.
On Tuesday, Superintendent Dr. T. Lamar Goree announced responses to more than 20 frequently asked questions from staff members which were discussed during his meetings on Oct. 11 with bus drivers, attendants, office staff and mechanics. The responses seek to break away misconceptions, but more importantly, to provide for an accurate flow of information between district leadership and employees.
“We are incredibly grateful to the more than 400 members of our Transportation team who work hard to support the more than 22,000 students who ride the bus each day,” Dr. Goree said. “We can only be successful when we are all working together. Today, we are here in good faith as we stand with our Board to show we value our bus drivers and we must support each other if we are to meet the needs of our students.”
In response to employee inquiries, Dr. Goree has tasked the district’s Human Resources Division with conducting a review of bus driver and attendant pay in alignment with comparable districts. Additionally, the district will soon launch a portal that will allow bus drivers to see in real time the status of all field trips and pay associated with field trips. Caddo also is set to begin on-going customer service training for office staff with similar training provided as part of bus driver in-service days.
In addition, Caddo introduced an online tool to allow staff and parents alike to ask questions or report concerns within a few clicks of a button. Coupled with the Transportation Advisory Council that allows bus drivers and attendants to elect representatives to serve in an advocacy role, Caddo has worked through a variety of means to enhance employee outreach.
“Among the most common themes to come from our bus drivers and staff members was a need for better communication and customer service,” Dr. Goree said. “These steps are the first of many when coupled with our Advisory Council and a review of pay to ensure we are all are in alignment with comparable districts.”
Dr. Goree’s announcement comes as Caddo continues a nationwide search for the district’s next Director of Transportation. The Director will be responsible for the more than 2 million miles run by Transportation each year in the service of students.
Like districts across the nation, Caddo continues to work diligently to address its driver shortage. The district in recent months has hosted numerous job fairs, hired a bus driver recruiter/trainer, and worked with teachers including coaches interested in getting their CDL license to support student groups.
“We must never lose sight of the most precious cargo we carry each day and why we all do the work we do,” Dr. Goree said. “Caddo is about our students. Safely transporting our students to and from school must be the primary focus.”
Summary of Steps Taken To Date
· Dr. Goree met with the Transportation Advisory Council as well as all bus drivers, attendants, office staff and mechanics.
· The district has purchased 25 new buses which currently are in production. Deliver of the buses is set to take place by December. This is the first phase of a 10 year plan to purchase a total of 250 new buses through a millage approved by voters in May.
· The Director of Transportation position has been posted nationwide to seek qualified candidates.
· Surveys were conducted regarding characteristics sought in the next Director of Transportation.
· Transportation staff members were also encouraged to submit additional questions and concerns for response.
· Leadership reviewed all surveys and created a summary sheet of questions asked by staff.
· Responses were submitted to all drivers and staff members.
· An online tool has been created to allow staff to submit any further questions or concerns.
· Staff is piloting a portal which will allow drivers to see their field trip pay information in real time.
· Employee field trip pay has been reviewed for any anomalies and all individuals who have come forward to date have seen a resolution.
· Dr. Goree has commissioned a study of pay in comparison to districts across the state.
· Customer service training for office staff and others is being created and will take place on a monthly basis.
· Elections for members of the Advisory Council will soon take place again with members of the Council voted on by their peers. Council members are compensated for their time on the committee.
· The district has hired a recruiter/trainer to support hiring and training high-quality bus drivers and attendants.