LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Jefferson County Public Schools hosted a job fair Wednesday as it hopes to hire and train dozens of new bus drivers this summer.
Even though school is out, “there’s no rest in transportation,” JCPS Transportation Director Randy Frantz said. The department will spend the next few weeks going through applications and interviewing candidates. And the plan is to start training new bus drivers in July so that the department is fully staffed and prepared for the first day of school.
“We have 1,000 community heroes on the road each and every day. You’re the last and the first person those kids see from JCPS every day," Frantz said. “We have 905 total routes, and if you take that on top of absenteeism, we’d like to have about 1,000 bus drivers. But it’s a constant moving target.”
Frantaz said about 80% of the district’s bus drivers have five or more years of experience. He estimated there is a turnover of about 100 drivers every year.
And it's not just JCPS. School districts across Kentuckiana are having a difficult time finding enough drivers.
“Just like other school districts in Kentucky and across the nation, we’re not out of the woods yet,” Frantz said. “But we are in a much better position than we have been in previous years.”
He said the department is starting to see a change. Because the superintendent and the school board recognized the importance and value of bus drivers, Frantz said they raised the starting salary from $16 to $20.75 per hour.
“We have seen an increase in the number of bus drivers because of it,” Frantz said. “It’s important. Louisville is a manufacturing, logistical city. And we need to be competitive within Louisville. And now we are.”
To be hired, you need to be at least 21 years old, pass a background check and have a valid driver’s license and clean record.
“You have to have a clean DMV,” Frantz said. “That is one of the tollgates to become a bus driver.”
Once hired, JCPS will provide the training necessary to get a Commercial Driver's License for free. The job also includes full health insurance and retirement benefits. There is also the incentive of an extra $2.50 per hour for perfect attendance for every two-week pay period.
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