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Kearsley schools offering incentives for bus drivers as shortage continues

Published: Oct. 26, 2021 at 7:29 PM EDT
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KEARSLEY, Mich. (WJRT) - Bus driver shortages continue to plague the nation, and Mid-Michigan isn’t excluded.

Many districts are now offering incentives for drivers, attempting to set themselves apart from other districts all searching for employees.

Kearsley Community Schools Superintendent Paul Gaudard said that their numbers have gotten a bit better since the start of the school year, but they’re still in a tight spot when it comes to bus drivers.

“We’ve had to collapse a few runs here and there, but for the most part we’ve leveled off and create some consistency for our families,” said Gaudard. “Not having those wide range of pick up and drop off times as we did in the beginning of the year.”

But, they’re not just competing with other school districts. Drivers are jumping ship to other industries all together.

“We’re losing people with their CDLs to the trucking industry and deliveries and those things. But we try to stay on the forefront and as competitive as we can,” said Gaudard.

He said that they’re doing everything they can to stand out, such as offering attendance bonuses, overtime opportunities and even a pension.

“We don’t contract to a third source, so there’s some benefits to that. Our drivers, if they work long enough and become vested, they’re eligible for a pension through the Michigan Office of Retirement Services, so that’s a huge benefit,” Gaudard said.

Kearsley schools also offer a $250 bonus before Christmas and another at the end of the year. Gaudard said that increases pay to about $20 an hour for drivers when combined all together.

Those who are interested can apply for a position on the Kearsley Community Schools website.

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