DEFUNIAK SPRINGS, Fla. (WMBB) – School districts across the country have faced bus driver shortages in the face of the pandemic, and Walton County is no different.
Walton County School District officials said they are about eight drivers short at the moment.
But they are offering attractive incentives to help fix the issue.
One of the incentives is a $1,000 sign-on bonus for new bus drivers after ninety school days of work.
“Another incentive for bus drivers is $250 each quarter which would be 45 school days,” said Candy Bodie, director of human resources for Walton County School District. “If a bus driver does not claim any leave time during that time other than temporary duty elsewhere that we assign to that bus driver or jury duty, they are going to receive $250 a quarter.”
School bus drivers may also be receiving a pay raise.
“Our bus drivers starting rate of pay if board-approved and if ratified by the union will go up from $18.10 an hour to $18.90 an hour,” Bodie said.
Superintendent A. Russell Hughes said the district will also help prospective drivers get their commercial driver’s licenses.
“We’re doing everything we can to make sure that we get the right people, try to attract the right people here, keep them here, and of course get children educated and part of them is getting them to school safely and home,” Hughes said.
Dennis Grey is the transportation coordinator for the school district and he said their goal is to get to 80 drivers.
“We have a lot of good employees. It’s a family atmosphere and they are very supportive of one another and we are just looking to grow this family,” Grey said.
The transportation department is also looking to expand.
A new bus facility is scheduled to open in Freeport on the first of next year to help cut down drive times for those who live further south.