The Denison Independent School District board of trustees recently approved a $220,500 increase to its current fiscal year budget. The funds will go toward repairing and replacing equipment damaged by flood waters last spring, the cost of charter buses due to a bus driver shortage and a 54-foot trailer for the Denison High band.

Denison ISD Assistant Superintendent Randy Reid said the equipment damaged by water at the service station last spring ranged from textbooks to walls.

“Insurance has helped out,” Reid said. “Damaged equipment included office equipment, desks that were warped, lift jacks, and electrical equipment. We had maintenance equipment as well as transportation equipment.”

The cost for these repairs totals $160,500. Following the flooding last spring, Reid explained several measures have been taken in the event something similar happens again.

“We’ve installed flood alarms so when the water levels come up to a certain level, it sets off a flood alarm,” Reid said. “We have a plan in place to automatically call out to several key people. They all meet there and then we start moving buses.”

Reid said the building will also be better protected if flooding ever occurs again.

“We have these new sand bag-like things that fold out and when they get wet they swell up and you can use them over and over,” Reid said. “We’ll put those in doorways and hopefully it wouldn’t get the water inside the building and would give it time to go down.”

Because the district is in need of bus drivers, additional charter buses have had to be hired to accommodate extra curricular travel, which brought additional cost. Reid explained charter buses are usually used but not this extent.

“Normally, we do hire some charter buses during the year because there are some scheduling times where we have too many things at one time,” Reid said. “A lot of sports start overlapping and that’s when we have issues.”

Reid went on to explain the bus driver shortage is a nationwide problem.

“If you talk to any school, they need bus drivers,” Reid said. “It’s a tough job. It’s a really important job. It’s a hard job because it’s kind of part time and it’s hard to find the right person that it fits their schedule. We do have some sign-on bonuses. We are probably going to consider increasing the pay for that in next year’s budget. Hopefully we can get more people that will be interested in driving a bus for us.”

Reid said the district appreciates those bus drivers that work for the district.

“They do a great job of making sure they get the kids to school and back at home on time,” Reid said. “It’s just been real tough with so many after school events because they overlap with our bus routes. Sometimes we are doubling up bus routes. We have the buses, we just don’t have the drivers to meet our extra curricular activities sometimes during the week.”

Reid explained the district’s coaching staff has also been helping out.

“Our coaching staff has really worked with us to help with that,” Reid said. “Sometimes if they’re a smaller group like tennis or golf, they are taking suburbans and our coaches are driving. Trying to help not spend all of that money on charter. But we have a good charter company that has worked with us to get us a good price. We bid that out each year.”

Reid encouraged anyone interested in becoming a Denison ISD bus driver to call the service center.

The budget increase also included $25,000 to help the band booster club purchase a trailer for the program. The booster club will be reimbursing the district $12,500 of the budget amount.