For once, a job fair hosted by Oklahoma City Public Schools wasn’t limited to teachers.
Instead, bus drivers, kitchen personnel and other key support positions were the focus of Tuesday’s event at U.S. Grant High School.
“For many of our students, bus drivers are the first and last school employees they see every day,” said Scott Lane, the district’s transportation director. “I am looking to hire 10 quality bus drivers who will play an essential role in protecting and mentoring our students.”
Applicants like Dawn Bell must have a clean driving record and pass a drug test and a background check before they are hired, a process that could take up to four weeks to complete.
“I like kids, and I love driving,” said Bell, 32, of Oklahoma City, a former package delivery driver. “I’m not an office person. I like to be out in the world.”
In addition to being safe, bus drivers must be able to manage children, who can number 60 at a time. Each of the district’s 170 drivers receive extensive training over the summer.
“They need to enjoy being around kids,” Lane said. “This is not like driving a truck. The thing I like to tell them is these boxes talk back. It’s not like hauling a bunch of boxes.”
With less than two months until the start of the 2014-15 school year for Oklahoma City Public Schools, the district also is seeking as many as 15 kitchen-related positions — including servers and seasonal workers who process applications for thousands of students who qualify for free and reduced-price meals.
“There are many different careers and departments that are needed to run a district of this size,” said Shannon Freeman, director of recruitment and retention for the district.
“Our teachers are on the front lines working closely with our students, but there are accountants, IT professionals, bilingual employees and mechanics working behind the scenes offering support to our schools.”
As for teachers, the district has about 200 vacancies to fill, Freeman said.
“We hope to catch May graduates and summer school grads,” she said.
To that end, school administrators set up colorful displays Tuesday in hopes of attracting qualified applicants.
“It’s a good way to see if a person is a good fit,” said Leon Hill, principal at Heronville Elementary School. “If a top candidate stops by, I’ll snap ’em up.”