Recession a boon to school transportation in Garfield County |

Recession a boon to school transportation in Garfield County

John Gardner
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado ” For the first time in at least three years, Garfield School District Re-2 Director of Transportation Sanja Morgan is only one person short of a full staff.

Morgan was in need of as many as seven bus drivers for the 2007-08 school year. At the start of the 2008-09 school year she was significantly better with only two full-time routes not filled.

“We are definitely looking better than last year,” Morgan said recently. “We’re actually sitting better than we have been in a long time.”

Morgan has said in the past that it’s been a struggle for her to keep positions filled with the energy industry’s high wages for drivers with a commercial driver’s license (CDL).

However, things have changed in the past couple of months, and Morgan has seen an increase in applicants. Currently, Morgan has only one position open, an over-the-road position, which involves driving student athletes to away games and students on other field trips.

Roaring Fork School District Re-1 Transportation Director Larry Estrada has seen an influx of applicants in the past couple of months as well.

“They’ve been coming out of the woodwork with the downturn in the economy,” Estrada said.

Estrada has received nine applications recently, with only one open route for the RFSD. That is unusual considering that both districts have been short of bus drivers to the extent that they’ve had to depend on teachers and even mechanics to fill in at times.

“I knew this was going to happen with the downturn in the economy,” Estrada said. “The dump truck drivers, and the construction industry slowing down, those guys are looking for work, and we need drivers.”

Morgan said there’s been enough interest that she may be able to add a couple of routes to lessen the load on some of the heavier routes. And she’s even looking to hire substitutes, which was a nonissue in the past because there weren’t any applicants to hire.

“Frankly, if we got staffed, we probably would look at adding a couple of routes just because we are running so heavy on most of our loads,” Morgan said.

Estrada said that he’s still got a lot of teachers driving routes, and he’s thankful they are willing to do it.

“They’ve been doing it for 10 to 15 years,” Estrada said. “It’s good for us. They are dependable, and it works out great.”

Contact John Gardner: 384-9114

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