As schools across the country look ahead to the 2019-2020 school year, once again schools are finding themselves seeking school bus drivers.
After starting the 2018-19 school year short 25 drivers, the Tyler Independent School District in Texas filled four vacancies throughout the year, leaving it with 21 openings to fill by the start of the new school term.
New York schools have also felt the impact of bus driver vacancies. A February report from the New York State School Boards Association stated that 75 percent of the state’s school transportation directors felt a driver shortage at some point during the 2017-18 school year. Eighty percent of the directors said a bus-driver shortage was their top concern.
While offering bonuses and competitive pay can go a long way to retaining and attracting drivers, it’s not the only way to recruit new drivers. To combat these shortages heading into the 2019-2020 school year, take a look at what school districts and others around the country suggest to recruit new drivers.
Bus Test-Drive Events
BusBoss.com suggests holding test-drive events to have interested drivers get behind the wheel of a bus. This can show drivers they can handle the large vehicle and demonstrate how fun – and important -- the job can be. The website does recommend first connecting with your local police department to ensure it is legal to hold test-drive events and determine the best place to hold them.
Attend Job Fairs
The Utah State Board of Education (USBE), in partnership with members of the Utah Association for Pupil Transportation (UAPT), suggests that members of transportation departments attend local job fairs to recruit job seekers. This gives hiring managers the ability to speak to interested candidates in person and answer questions.
Attend Back-to-School Events
The USBE also recommends having school transportation representatives attend back-to-school events. It suggests setting up a booth to promote the positive aspects of being a bus driver – including how bus-driver schedules coincide with kids’ school schedules.
Promote Benefits and Perks
School districts should focus on the benefits and perks of being a bus driver. One of these perks – as discussed by Arizona school bus drivers – is playing an important role in students’ lives and keeping students safe. Schools can also promote the more traditional benefits, including schedules that match school calendars, competitive compensation, and medical and retirement benefits.
Target Those with Commercial Driver Licenses
School-bus driver positions can offer commercial drivers a more flexible schedule than other jobs. BusBoss.com recommends recruiting drivers with CDLs to promote the benefits of working set hours with weekends and holidays off. Hiring drivers with a CDL also saves the transportation company time and money in training.
Offer Recruiting Incentives to Current Employees
A school bus transportation company’s best recruiting tool can be its current employees. Having drivers convey to others their job satisfaction, benefits and perks can go a long way. Giving current drivers incentives to recruit their peers can be an effective tool.
Show Support to Current Drivers
Showing appreciation to current bus drivers and properly relaying the importance of their job can encourage current drivers to retain their positions. In Arizona, a school district encouraged the superintendent and other district administrators to stop by transportation team meetings, offer recognition to drivers and get to know them to make the drivers feel more a part of the school district.
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