SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) — The shortage of school bus drivers has been prevalent since the pandemic began, and it hasn’t gone away.
The SPS Transportation Center held a unique job fair on Wednesday in hopes of hiring new bus drivers and bus attendants for the 2022-2023 school year. At the job fair, people could get behind the wheel and try out the school buses. If people felt comfortable driving the bus, they had the option of getting an interview and application on the spot.
Due to the shortage of bus drivers, SPS now pays its bus drivers $20 per hour and a $2,000 training incentive for part-time and full-time drivers. Jonathan Shelden, SPS transportation director, said new hires should meet several qualifications and obtain certification before starting work.
“It requires a Class B commercial driver’s license with passenger and school bus approval,” Shelden said. “We do all that training here. It’s not just free training. It is paid. »
He also said that new recruits cannot have air brake restrictions since most buses are equipped with air brakes. Shelden pointed out that driving school buses is a job that almost anyone can do.
“We cover the cost of the CDL permit and the CDL license once that has been obtained,” he said. “No previous experience is necessary. You just need to be a careful driver in your own vehicle and have a heart for children.
Shelden said they hope to hire more than 30 new bus drivers and about 20 bus attendants for the fall semester. He said the more they have, the more services they can offer to students. Shelden said they were even hiring new drivers at the job fair.
“We are doing on-site interviews today. We have about 10-12 people here right now, some are inside doing interviews and some are testing buses.
Shelden said there’s more to being a bus driver than money and incentives. He said bus drivers are the first teacher in the morning and the last teacher in the afternoon.
One of the people who attended the job fair and tested a school bus, Bill Sturdivan, used to drive school and church buses for about five years in the 90s and decided that with the shortage keeps driving, it was time for him to start again.
“I’ve been doing some remodeling and I’m a bit tired from the terrain, so I wanted to try something that wasn’t as hard on my body,” Sturdivan said.
Sturdivan said he went out on Wednesday not just for the benefits, but also because he enjoys being around kids.
“I love being around children, I have seven grandchildren,” he said. “I am a service-oriented person and enjoy doing service jobs that serve a good purpose.”
He also said he understood the need for bus driver shortages and hoped to help meet the demand, even if he helped a little.
“There is a huge need for the community, and I wanted to get involved and see what I could do to help.”
Sturdivan said it looks like he will be driving a school bus in the fall and hopes to do so for a while. He said people should consider the job if they can.
“I think anyone who can qualify to be a driver should check it out because the pay is really good, and now the buses have air conditioning, so it’s not uncomfortable to drive one.”
Shelden said if anyone would like to apply to become an SPS school bus driver, call the office at 417-523-0500 or apply online at the website.
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