School districts across the country are facing a bus driver shortage, and that includes schools in the Quad Cities area. Sherrard School District announced this week they are in “great need” of bus drivers.
“Having enough bus drivers is always a problem, but this year it’s particularly acute,” said Alan Boucher, the superintendent of Sherrard School District.
The shortage in drivers has become so significant, Boucher says there are even some teachers who are having to fill-in.
“Right now we have three openings for our bus drivers and we’re having to fill those with mechanics and with a high school teacher and with the several substitutes that we have,” Boucher said.
Boucher says this lack of drivers is a problem every year, but the COVID-19 pandemic has only made matters worse. He says masks being required and other industries hiring as well have made the problem even more prevalent this year.
“Everyone on the bus has to wear a mask, so the driver probably doesn’t really care to wear a mask, but also keep making sure the students are wearing their mask,” Boucher said. “[Plus] there are so many help wanted signs all over the place that maybe we just have to compete with other organizations to find workers … so just because of all the opportunities, maybe the potential drivers are choosing to do something in another sector.”
This has led Sherrard to give people new incentives to become drivers for their district. That includes paying for people’s CDL training in full, along with raising wages.
“We’ve raised the starting wage from 18 dollars to 19 dollars, and then next year it’ll go up to 20 dollars and the following year it’ll be 21 dollars,” Boucher said.
Boucher also says the district will hire bus drivers immediately as bus monitors at $13.35 an hour until they complete CDL certification, which takes around three to six weeks. He adds that the district is taking applications from pretty much anyone 21 or older.
“We invite anybody to apply,” Boucher said.