By Ann Marie Shambaugh
Carmel Clay Schools – like many districts in the area – is facing a bus driver shortage, and they’re hoping a $1,500 signing bonus will help attract recruits.
The CCS school board approved the bonus and bumped up the attendance incentive for current bus drivers at its Feb. 8 meeting.
“We would hope with both of these factors that we would be able to get our staffing for bus drivers up to an acceptable level,” said Roger McMichael, CCS associate superintendent for business affairs. “Going forward we would continue to monitor this and see how it goes, and if we felt it necessary to come back and have further discussion we would do that.”
To receive the signing bonus, the driver must complete a regular route for three months, be employed as a bus driver on Sept. 15 and receive a satisfactory evaluation. The signing bonus budget is capped at $22,500, which covers 15 new drivers, the number of drivers the district would like to hire to have optimal staffing. The district has 169 routes and 163 bus drivers, with five on long-term leave.
In January, nearly 300 students were late for school one day because a driver wasn’t available to pick them up. At times four of the district’s five mechanics have picked up bus routes, as well as additional office staff members, but it still wasn’t always enough to cover all of the routes. Bus mechanics had been paid $19,373 in overtime this school year as of Feb. 8.
Through May 25, current bus drivers will receive an attendance incentive of $225 for missing only one day and $450 for zero absences. Beginning in July, they will receive $150 for one absence per semester and $300 for zero absences. The previous rate was $75 for one absence and $150 for none.