It’s that time of year again when school districts are looking for good school bus drivers. There is a common thread in this year’s hiring – job fairs and networking.
A lot of districts are feeling the pinch of epic driver shortages. More than 330,000 school bus driver openings are forecasted over the next seven years. That’s well above the need for mass transit, taxis, and limousine drivers. Why the shortage? High expectations with little return. Drivers face increasing obstacles for training and background checks from police and child welfare groups as well as low compensation and low hour split shifts. Driver’s are required to manage the equivalent of two classrooms in the morning and afternoon.
But even some of the lowest paying districts retain the best drivers. Good classroom and behind-the-wheel training, periodic raises, and a senior mentor can attract good candidates. Tucson Unified School district in Arizona attributes their driver surplus to networking. Seven bus drivers are paid to visit community groups and encourage people to apply for driver positions. The Carmel Clay School District in Indiana approved a $1,500 signing bonus to candidates who successfully drive a route for three months and pass an evaluation.
Job fairs, networking, extensive training, signing bonuses and support are some of the keys to finding, and retaining, great school bus drivers.