Durham returns driver recruitment plan to SCS on time

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Shelby County Schools confirmed Durham School Services made good on its promise to have a bus driver recruitment plan prepared before the end of December.

This past school year got off to a bumpy start, with dozens of bus crashes and a driver arrested for having pot on board.

Durham executives vowed to SCS it would take three steps to improve driver quality, including third-party background checks, more frequent drug/alcohol screenings, and a prepared driver recruitment plan for 2015.

WREG got a copy of that plan Monday.

"I think that would be a good idea, because you don't want anybody driving your children to and from school, and I do think they need a better system with tracking the people that they hire," SCS parent Patrice Wimbley said.

Durham's plan says SCS' current contract requires 525 drivers, but driver turnover averages about 30 percent. So for 2015, Durham needs to recruit 160 drivers and 50 bus aides.

The plan is only a couple pages long, but makes note of several changes in driver recruitment.

Durham reportedly added two full-time trainers for the classroom. It also says it's "up-skilling" its recruitment team.

WREG asked Durham what that term means. A spokesperson said it means "providing tools and training to enhance their skill set specific to the recruitment process."

Durham claims it's doing extra checks of candidates' paperwork before s/he gets behind the wheel.

Durham kicked in $100,000 to upgrade recruitment software to better track candidates.

There are also changes to the way Durham wants to attract candidates. It held a job fair over the weekend, and there will be other fairs like it, along with flyers made available to parents.

Durham is also reaching out to employment agencies, schools, and veteran programs to find qualified bus drivers.

Still, the changes are not enough for all parents.

"I have a 3-year-old...I'm going to put him in my car and I'm going to take him to school, I'm going to pick him up, because I just don't trust if you passed the background check and all that, I just don't trust other people driving my child around," parent Shannon Lattin said.

A Durham spokesperson confirmed to WREG the plan was submitted on time and that there were about 45 applicants at Durham's job fair Saturday.

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