Houston Independent School District Interim Superintendent Grenita Lathan met with all HISD bus drivers and transportation staff on Friday to deliver a simple message of support: “I hear you.”
Lathan called the meeting so she could directly address employees and reinforce the important role they play in the success of students across the district.
“You truly are the first contact every child in this district has each day on his way to school,” Lathan said. “People think it’s just about the principals and teachers, but it’s about our bus drivers, our food service workers, our custodians. You are essential.”
The meeting marked the first time Lathan has met with the entire Transportation Services department. She was joined by HISD Chief Operating Officer Brian Busby and Transportation Services General Manager Timothy Brown.
Both Busby and Brown spoke to the transportation team. Busby outlined the department’s renewed focus on recruitment and retention of bus drivers to address staffing shortages. Busby also urged the current drivers to recognize their role in recruitment.
“Our number-one recruiter is you,” Busby said. “When you leave your job for the day, you tell your neighbors, your friends, your family about your job, as much as you like it or dislike it. That’s how we get more drivers for HISD.”
Busby said the transportation department is planning to hire a recruiter in the coming weeks and assess driver pay. The moves are designed to address the district’s driver shortage and pay disparity between HISD and surrounding districts. He also noted that he is exploring the possibility of making drivers full-time employees, a move that would allow them to have a set number of hours and increased benefits.
Following their presentations, Lathan and Busby held a question-and-answer session during which they addressed driver questions and concerns. Most comments focused on salary, child care options, fleet maintenance, and driver safety.