MACON, Ga. — Even before the pandemic, many school systems struggled to fill open positions for school bus drivers. Bibb County Schools has put together a plan to pay out rewards to solve their driver shortage.
Transportation Director Anthony Jackson says many of their drivers love their job.
“Just the impact on lives is what's really, really rewarding for me and for a lot of our drivers is what I'm told is the reason why the majority of them hang around year after year after year,” said Jackson.
There’s training to become a bus driver, which starts after getting their commercial driver’s permit. The district’s safety training coordinator, Tommy Sams, helps them get their commercial driver’s license.
“I will assign them to a trainer and they will take them through the process. The vehicle inspection is basically identifying the parts on the bus, inspecting the part, the basic control skills, the basic maneuvering the bus through traffic and on the road,” said Sams.
Bibb has 126 full time bus drivers, but they need about 150 to cover all the routes. To encourage new drivers, they're offering bonuses to anyone willing to join.
The district decided to approve a $1,000 sign-on bonus. In addition to that, all employees that refer someone that becomes a driver can receive a $500 referral fee.
Once applicants get their commercial driver's permit, the district offers a paid training program where they can earn while getting their commercial driver's license and becoming school bus-certified.
Full-time bus drivers start at $17.84 an hour, part-time bus drivers make $10. The district guarantees a five-hour work day, but there are opportunities to work more hours to drive for field trips and athletic events.
If you're interested in applying, you can find the application on the district's website here.