Bus drivers say they need help when school is out

Capitol Bureau

TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNW) – Kansas school bus drivers said they’re being unfairly singled out by the state.

Drivers that are employed by private contractors, such as Durham or First Student, can’t get unemployment benefits when school is not in session.

Bus drivers and bus companies told lawmakers they need to change the law.

Around 3,100 bus drivers could be affected if there is a change.

Supporters said there is plenty of work for about nine months of the year, but when school is on summer or winter break, work dries up.

They said there are only so many summer school and camp routes for workers to cover.

“The company tries to give them all the work that they can, but there’s that piece in there, that there’s just not enough there, and so that’s what we’re trying to cover,” said retired school bus driver Larry Miller.

Supporters said not all bus drivers would take unemployment benefits, but they would be beneficial for drivers that have a hard time finding another job when school is out.

“People who do go out and look for this work, they will find signs out in front of businesses that says hiring today, well they’ll walk in to say ‘hey, I would like to go to work for you,’ be in a server, or a Walmart, or wherever like that, well the red flag goes up because you’re only going to be there for eight to 10 weeks,” Miller said. “That business doesn’t really want to spend their training dollars for the loss of an employee in eight to 10 weeks.”

If a bus driver does find work, many times they will opt to pick that job and leave the profession altogether, forcing a company to have to train a new driver.

People against the bill said it should be left to school bus companies to pay their employees more, and that the government should stay out of the issue.

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