GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Local school districts have decided to make a job fair geared toward school bus drivers an annual event.

More than 175 prospective bus drivers and attendants took part in the first job fair at Kent ISD on July 10.

Kent ISD’s transportation coordinator, John Savage, took the lead on putting the first event together.

“It’s not that there’s just a shortage of bus drivers in our area, but there is a statewide and national shortage of bus drivers,” Savage told SBF.

Savage coordinated with 12 school districts and Dean Transportation a month prior to the job fair. The districts and contractor are aiming to hire a total of nearly 100 school bus drivers and attendants for the 2014-15 school year.

“The districts were very happy with the applicants that came through,” Savage said. “We had a mix of retired people and some experienced bus drivers.”

The school districts and contractor will provide on-the-job training and certification.

Although this was the Grand Rapids-area operations’ first school bus driver job fair, operations in other states have held these types of recruiting events. Cascade Student Transportation in Idaho recently put on a job fair to bring in more drivers for the upcoming school year.

The need for drivers is also forcing some school districts to look for ways to make the position more appealing. Earlier this year, Greenville (S.C.) County Schools proposed a pay raise in hopes of finding more eligible drivers.