OPELOUSAS — The St. Landry Parish School has agreed to call a special meeting May 29 to discuss the district’s policy of substitute bus driver employment.
Superintendent Edward Brown told the board Thursday that school district officials have begun discussing ways to hire some of their substitute drivers on a full-time basis.
“Right now, we are in the stage of gathering information to get these drivers hired. That might be based on seniority and some people who are already driving routes for contract drivers.
“Decisions that we make are surely going to change (bus) routes, and that will create a domino effect,” Brown said.
Although it has not been a meeting agenda item, the matter of substitute drivers and other substitute workers has been discussed by board members during several meetings since January.
Last month, board member Randy Wagley said the reason the school system has so many substitute workers is because there is no money to hire those individuals full-time.
Brown, in an interview following Thursday’s meeting, said the issue needs to be addressed.
“It’s a serious issue that has gone on for a long period of time,” he said. “We have to correct that and find ways to eventually get all substitute drivers who have been hired onto full-time status.”
Changing the status of the 60 substitute drivers to full-time workers also means allowing them to participate in retirement and health care benefits, something that will cost the school system more money, Brown said.
“What that means is we will not be able to immediately hire all substitute workers as full-time workers. I’ve talked with attorneys for the (bus) drivers association, and they told me if we did that, it would break the system financially,” said Brown.
Brown described the current negotiations with St. Landry’s bus drivers as “cordial.”
Eventually, Brown said, the board will have to consider hiring the district’s other substitute workers on a full-time basis. This would include cafeteria workers, janitors, secretaries and teachers.
After the meeting, personnel director Matthew Scruggins said some 300 employees are working as substitutes in St. Landry’s school system.
“For every job there is in the schools, you will (have) substitutes in that position,” Scruggins said.