- June 21, 2022
The idea of a school district hiring employees who do not have a high school diploma once seemed paradoxical to Flagler County School Board member Colleen Conklin.
Now, Conklin and the rest of the board understand the need to have an alternative for certain positions.
At its meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 18, the board unanimously agreed to update the job descriptions for bus drivers and bus driver aides.
Bob Ouellette, the school district’s chief human resources officer, presented the board with new job descriptions that add an option for those who can't present a diploma or GED to demonstrate the ability to read and write by completing a basic skills assessment test set forth by the district.
Noting that there is critical need to hire bus drivers right now, Ouellette said many driver and driver-aide candidates have trouble producing their diplomas.
“We have a lot of second-career folks and immigrants who are having hard time proving their graduation documentation,” he said. “Over the past month, eight folks couldn’t produce it because their high school records don’t exist or they come from other countries (where they can’t produce the documents).”
With the board’s approval, the district will create an entry-level skills test that will focus on the skills they would need to be successful in their job, Oellette said.
“Many of these drivers have (commercial driver’s licenses) and have been driving a long time, and this one hiccup keeps them from driving here.”
— CHERYL MASSARO
Board member Cheryl Massaro thanked Ouellette for “thinking outside of the box.”
“I’m delighted to see this small change which will have great effect,” she said. “Many of these drivers have (commercial driver’s licenses) and have been driving a long time, and this one hiccup keeps them from driving here. It’s not that we’re putting people on the road who aren’t prepared. They just don’t have the documents.”
Conklin said she was against replacing the diploma requirement when it originally came up in a workshop, but she understands that attaining proof of a diploma can sometimes be difficult.
“I realize that anyone who comes from a second career, that would be a challenge,” she said.
The new job description for drivers says, “experience as a school bus driver or driver of other large vehicles (is) preferred.”
A bus driver training course is offered by the district’s transportation department.
FINAL MEETING FOR THREE BOARD MEMBERS
This was the final board meeting for Board Chair Trevor Tucker and board members Janet McDonald and Jill Woolbright. The current board will have an agenda workshop Nov. 1, which will be its final meeting before the Nov. 8 election.
Tucker suggested the workshop discussion include incoming board members Christy Chong and Sally Hunt as well as Courtney VandeBunte and Will Furry, who are in a runoff for the District 2 seat. The other board members agreed.
Conklin said that while the workshop will be a time to celebrate the outgoing board members, she wanted to devote her closing comments to honor them.
She said she enjoyed her conversations over the years with McDonald on child development and other subjects and praised Tucker for having a “great sense of pulling everybody together” and trying to keep a lid on district expenses.
“We tease you a lot for it, but you always watch the bottom line, and we appreciate that,” she said.
Conklin said that while she and Woolbright have had their differences, “I always appreciated you bringing a teacher’s perspective to the dais, and I want you to know that.”