The countdown is on to the first day of school in our area, and bus drivers are on the wish list of nearly every school system. Last-minute efforts are underway to hire more people to fill the critical job.
In Prince George’s County, candidates showed up at the Skyline Administration Building in Suitland, Maryland, with paperwork in hand.
With nearly every employer in the D.C. area hiring, many said they deliberately made a choice to come there, to step up and serve the children of their community.
"I have several kids of my own, so therefore I already got the patience with children. So I'm willing to do it and get them to school and from school," one woman said.
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To fill its shortage of nearly 200 bus drivers, Prince George’s County Public Schools are offering a starting wage of $20 dollars an hour, plus benefits. The school system will also help qualified candidates obtain a commercial drivers license.
Many who showed up to apply for the challenging job - to safely bring children back and forth from school - said their motivation comes from the heart.
"I would consider myself setting an example for the next generation," one man said. "It's an opportunity to interact with kids and be around professional people at all times."
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In Fairfax County, the bus driver shortage came up at a virtual back-to-school meeting with Superintendent Michelle Reid.
Reid said some routes will again be so-called “doublebacks” this year. It means that one bus is required to run two scheduled routes back-to-back that would normally have been covered by two separate buses. It has the potential to create “domino-like” delays.
"We had a large number of drivers take the CDL training courses this summer, and we're excited about our new drivers. And we're really excited about our veteran drivers, many of whom have driven for a very long time," she said.