Warren County schools try to navigate bus driver shortage

Schools Tackle Bus Drive Shortage Ahead of Upcoming School Year
Published: Jun. 23, 2022 at 5:34 PM CDT
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BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (WBKO) - There’s been a national school bus driver shortage for some time now, including in Bowling Green.

“In 2017, we had a 213 drivers, and today we have 161 drivers, and we’re in a high growth district,” said Warren County schools’ Transportation Director Chip Jenkins, “Our need for drivers is tremendous.”

The shortage has been attributed to many things, primarily the pandemic and the economy.

“COVID has hurt us because a lot of people have been scared of COVID and not wanting to come and be around children,” explained bus driver Melanie Edison, “But you know, it’s so safe now. Because we have all the sanitary things and it’s just easier.”

Jenkins has been working to help with both issues; providing sanitation items in all buses, raising bus drivers’ wages to almost $17 an hour, and providing sign-on bonuses.

Drivers who already have the training and may be transferring from another district will be given a $2,500 sign-on bonus. Those who need the training will be given a $500 sign-on bonus and be paid for their training.

Jenkins also took the time to discuss benefits.

“The benefits are great, our insurance is second to none. It’s really is good, you just have to work 20 hours minimum to become a full-time driver or employee with the district,” Jenkins explained, “the 20 hours a base gives them full-time benefit health benefits.”

Through pandemics and inflation, Edison has stayed with the bus system for over 25 years.

“I love my job. You get to go on field trips and all kinds of games,” Edison said, “People never forget the bus drivers. You might not always remember other things, but you always remember your favorite teacher and your bus driver.”

Both Edison and Jenkins agreed, the main reason to become a bus driver is the kids.

“if you have a love of children, then this is the place to be because they grow on you. These letters and stuff and you have little ones come up and give you a hug or our older students who might see you out on the street saying, ‘Hey’,” Jenkins said, “They show that kind of appreciation and affection back, it does something to you as a driver.”

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