After about a month of school, Cumberland County still needs about nine bus drivers to fill its ranks.

It’s also still looking to fill several teaching positions.

“Becky Reed [transportation supervisor] and every mechanic is driving a bus right now,” Director of Schools Janet Graham told the Chronicle. “But we’re still having to have double routes.”

On a double route, a bus completes one route and returns to the school for its next set of students. This results in students getting home later, bus drivers working longer hours, and teachers staying longer after school for bus duty.

But Graham said some relief could be on the way. Two potential drivers were testing last week and two more this week. 

The Cumberland County Board of Education has called a special meeting Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. to discuss bus drivers as well as take action on building projects at Crab Orchard Elementary.

Cumberland County offers drivers a flat rate of pay per day, starting at $44.82 and topping out at $79.44. Full-time bus drivers also qualify for the employee health insurance program, with single coverage fully paid by the school system. Family members can be added, but the driver would pay for that coverage.

The county has 72 regular buses, 15 special education buses and 27 extended utilization buses.

There was a minor traffic accident involving one bus on Aug. 28. Graham said the accident resulted in damage to a mirror on the bus, but no children were injured.

The accident, however, delayed some students getting home when expected. 

Graham said the school system is still updating student bus information for the new school year. Without this information, the schools were unable to send messages to parents of the students riding the bus.

Until that information is updated, Graham said the school system will use its website and social media to share information should there be a need in the future. 

She also urged parents to ensure their child’s school has their correct phone number so messages are received. 

There are also still several unfilled teaching positions in the school system. Current job postings include part-time special education teachers at Stone Elementary and Crab Orchard Elementary, a part-time chemistry teacher at Cumberland County High School, a seventh-grade math teacher at Stone Elementary, a high school information technology teacher at CCHS, and a high school math teacher at CCHS.

Graham said CCHS had adjusted some schedules to allow the school to serve its math students this semester. A teacher had also volunteered to teach during her planning period. In those situations, the school system pays the teacher one-fourth of their salary for the semester.

“They’re covered, but we’ve left the posting up in hopes someone will come forward,” Graham said.

The school system is also closely monitoring enrollment in all classes and grade clusters to ensure compliance with state laws for student-teacher ratios. 

“Right now, we’re OK,” Graham said last week. “With Labor Day, that may change.”

Schools have traditionally seen a slight increase in enrollment after the Labor Day holiday, she explained.

Heather Mullinix is editor of the Crossville Chronicle. She covers schools and education in Cumberland County. She may be reached at hmullinix@crossville-chronicle.com.

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