Ezra Veno, 21, of Superior, is among the dedicated team of BVSD bus drivers who are behind the wheel safely transporting students to and from school every week. Veno, one of BVSD’s youngest bus drivers, is also a BVSD alum, attending Escuela Bilingüe Pioneer in his elementary days. He now is working part-time as a bus driver as he pursues his college degree.
Veno serves as both a relief driver and an assistant trainer and has been working for BVSD for the past year.
Ideal working schedule for someone in college
Veno admits that he never anticipated working as a school bus driver.
“A friend of mine told me about the job, and I said ‘that doesn’t sound like something I would do,’ but I decided to look into it, and it's been great so far,” says Veno.
In addition to a range of other advantages, bus drivers in BVSD have the opportunity to enjoy a flexible schedule that enables them to take time off during the day to pursue other interests like furthering their education.
“I'm currently taking a semester off of school, but last semester my morning routes ended by 9:15 a.m. and my afternoon routes were later in the afternoon, which gave me the ability to go to school, and be home by 5 p.m. It’s an ideal working schedule for someone getting through college,” says Veno.
“My favorite part about driving a bus is the students”
Bus drivers have the opportunity to form connections with the students they transport. These friendships often become a source of comfort and support for the students, helping them feel at ease during their daily commute.
“My favorite part about driving a bus is the students. They're so much fun, especially the special needs students,” said Veno. “They are so kind, happy and friendly. They tell the most amazing stories you can imagine. We’ve had plenty of Karaoke bus rides; it's super fun,” said Veno.
“When you have a permanent route, you drive the same kids twice a day, all week. You get to know them really well, they tell you about their puppy, their parents and birthdays; I have a stack of birthday invitations at my house from some of the kids,” said Veno.
Working at the transportation terminals
The BVSD Transportation department operates from three different terminals, which house 236 school buses, including buses powered by electricity, diesel, propane and gasoline. These buses cover a total of 132 different routes.
The job is not without its challenges as drivers have to maneuver a 40-foot vehicle filled with students, riled up from the school day. To adequately prepare them, BVSD has drivers undergo extensive training to ensure confidence ahead of hitting the road, especially for those that have not yet obtained their Commercial Driver’s License (CDL). BVSD covers the cost along with incentives tied to obtaining a CDL license for drivers joining the team.
“You essentially get your CDL for free, saving a substantial amount since it can typically cost $5,000 or more,” said Veno.
“Our trainers are so awesome, by the time you need to take the CDL test, you feel good about it, and you're ready,” said Veno. “If the trainer thinks you need improvement in a certain area before taking the test, they will work with you until you feel confident.”
Veno is not alone in being an employee in the fleet with another activity on the side, many other BVSD bus drivers have their own unique work/life circumstances with other jobs, activities or passions.
“BVSD drivers are a fascinating group of people,” said Amy Thompson, BVSD Transportation Coordinator. “When they are not transporting students some or our drivers are artists, professional athletes, retired engineers, musicians, entrepreneurs, students, and so much more.”
Bus Driver shortage and incentives
Like many other districts in our state and across the nation, BVSD is experiencing a shortage of bus drivers- a critical position needed to support our students and their education.
Currently all newly-hired candidates receive a $1,000 incentive upon completion of their first 90 working days. An additional $2,500 will be provided if the candidate already has a CDL (B with PS endorsement and no air brake restriction) upon hire. Employees also receive $1,000 if they refer someone who also completes the 90 days of work.
“If anyone is looking for part-time work that makes a difference to the community while allowing time to pursue other interests, I would highly encourage them to apply for a job with the BVSD Transportation Department," said Thompson, BVSD Transportation Coordinator.
For more information or to apply visit: jobs.bvsd.org