School district offering sign-on bonus amid bus driver shortage

The district needs to fill 15 positions
Published: Jun. 29, 2021 at 4:53 PM EDT
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BOYD COUNTY, Ky (WSAZ) - To attract more bus drivers to the district, one school system is increasing starting pay for drivers and has added a sign-on bonus.

“It’s a really good job for people who want to be on the same schedule as their children especially if their children are Boyd County students,” said Matt Spade the district administrator.

Boyd County Public School District officials say they are experiencing a critical bus driver shortage.

At this time, the district has fifteen open positions that it is struggling to fill, resulting in the loss of two bus routes.

“We spend all morning on phones with parents who aren’t happy with us, and trying to reach out to drivers who don’t really know the route and then telling them you’ve missed one can you double back. So it wastes a lot of time and miles,” said Cheryl Caldwell, the transportation director.

These bus routes must then be added to other routes, increasing drive times and the number of minutes students must spend on their bus.

“I think it’s not uncommon to us to see 15 to 20 minutes extra on a bus which is a fairly long time for a kid; especially if they’re elementary age five, six, seven years old that’s a long time,” said Spade.

Safety is also a concern for the students, as it is best to have a regular driver on a regular route who knows who picks up the kids.

“When you’re going home, a regular driver will see mom is always here to get this child. When there’s nobody here today, we’ve got a problem so they’ll get on the radio and call the school and say ‘Yes, bring that child back to school’.”

The district says the shortage was being felt before the COVID pandemic, but has since gotten worse.

Even as potential drivers become vaccinated, the district has not seen any noticeable increase in applicants.

In order to encourage drivers to apply, Boyd County Public Schools has increased starting pay to $16 an hour and added a $500 sign-on bonus. For new employees, that bonus would come following CDL training and a signed contract.

“I think it’s a job (for) a family who needs a good second income and having childcare issues. (You) can be home when schools not in session, you’re home with your kids., you’ve got summer breaks off and Christmas break,” said Caldwell.

In addition to these new benefits, drivers will be able to also enjoy current Boyd County School District employee benefits. According to the district, those benefits include full health insurance for themselves and their family at reasonable rates, $20,000 in life insurance at no charge and free admission to all regular season Boyd County Athletic events.

The school district will pay for all training needed. It requires about two weeks of training in the classroom, and three to five weeks of on the road training.

For more information click here or call 606-928-4141.

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