TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — In an effort to combat its driver shortage, a school district here is offering multiple financial incentives.
New drivers for Tuscaloosa City Schools will receive a $1,000 signing bonus: $500 after three months if hired by Aug. 31, and $500 after six months, according to the district’s website. The district also offers to pay for applicants to earn their commercial driver’s license.
District bus drivers also receive bonuses for good attendance and a clean driving record, as well as health and retirement benefits, according to the website. Ron Schappacher, the district’s director of transportation, told WBRC that another benefit included is a pension plan. He added that although the job is typically part-time, drivers can get up to eight hours per day if they choose to drive mid-day routes and field trips or participate in work programs.
Schappacher also noted to the news source that the bus driver shortage in Tuscaloosa is reflective of a national trend, and that one factor is the dip in unemployment. The results of School Bus Fleet’s 2017 Top 50 Contractors survey and 2017 School District Fleet Survey showed that more than a quarter of respondents from across the U.S. were experiencing a severe or desperate shortage. More than one-third of respondents to the contractor survey said they were offering signing and referral bonuses.
Similar to Tuscaloosa City Schools, Jefferson County (Ky.) Public Schools began a pilot that pays school bus drivers and attendants a bonus for every pay period they come to work every day. Meanwhile, Maine’s state departments of labor and education teamed up in 2017 on a campaign to offer free training to veterans who are interested in becoming a school bus driver.