LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- The Jefferson County Public School Board voted Tuesday night to raise the starting wage for bus drivers by almost $4.

JCPS officials have tried multiple ways to bring in new drivers, but they hope money will be the driving force to bring in more workers. The district is currently short 180 drivers, the most it has ever seen.

JCPS Chief Operations Officer Dr. Mike Raisor said the issue stemmed from a flourishing economy.

"There are more jobs out there and higher-paying jobs, so that's why we feel we have to be competitive," Raisor said.

Raisor said there is a shortage throughout the nation, and he is hoping an increase from $16.95 to $20.65 will attract new drivers. 

Jayna Martin, who's a bus compound coordinator, said she definitely feels the effects of the shortage. She said her compound has 75 bus drivers, however it is supposed to have 79 to operate properly.

"On my book, I have about 15 runs before I come in the door that I have to cover," she said about the start of her day. "You have to be very creative when you're covering these runs, because not everyone has help." \

Martin said she has to rely on other compounds and the flexibility of her drivers to get through each day. However, as Martin's day is just getting started, she said parents make it difficult to stay composed.

"I'm by myself, phones going nuts, parents are upset because the bus is 10 minutes late, and you're trying to explain to them what's going on, and they're just not having a part of it," she said.

As for the current JCPS bus drivers, there are mixed emotions. While newer drivers are ecstatic, Teamsters Local 783 President John Stovall said some aren't happy about it. 

"It's like all contracts: You start in at a certain rate, and everyone that comes behind you starts at a higher rate than what you started," Stovall said. 

Stovall said he believes the district made the right decision and hopes it begins to close the gap of drivers needed.

The district will hold a transportation job fair from 1-5 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 17, at the C. B. Young Jr. Service Center at 3001 Crittenden Drive.

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