HELENA — Helena Public Schools has a shortage of bus drivers. Their partner, First Student, is using incentives to try and bring in new candidates for the upcoming school year.
“So, I would tell them that it's the opportunity to help out their community and to help out the kids in our community especially to get back and forth to school so they can get the education that they deserve,” says Dan Redford, Location Safety Manager for First Student.
While hiring bus drivers has been an issue for years, the pandemic exacerbated the issue.
In order to curb the lack of bus drivers, multiple incentives have been implemented in order to keep bus routes normal.
For example, signing bonuses now range from $4,000 – 6,000. Starting pay begins at $22.00/hour in September. Employees can bring their children along on the bus during their shifts in lieu of childcare. And, additionally, ads have been placed around town and online, and First Student recruiters are actively attending hiring events to garner more employees.
“The shortage here affects the students and the parents of these students. You know, it's our job to be getting these children from home to school and from school back to home safely. And with the shortage of bus drivers, it makes it harder for the parents to get to be able to get their kids to school or harder for us to get the kids to school. Which then kind of might put it on the parents and then it puts a, you know, a struggle with them,” says Redford.
Recently, First Student has received 11 applications. 5 of those applicants are now in training.
An event will be held on August 6th and August 20th known as “Big Bus, No Big Deal.” This event gives interested candidates a chance to drive a bus before applying for the job. The event will be from 10 AM – 1 PM at the Lewis and Clark County Fairgrounds.
If you’d like to apply to be a bus driver, you can follow this link: https://workatfirst.com/
Editor's Note: The original article states Helena Public Schools were going to use a rolling bus route suspension, however, HPS says a final decision has yet to be determined.