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School system offers raises, bonuses to attract bus drivers

August 30, 2021 GMT

CHESTERFIELD, Va. (AP) — The public school system in Chesterfield County is the latest to offer pay raises and bonuses in an effort to address a nationwide shortage of bus drivers.

WRIC reported Monday that the school district outside Richmond will boost pay by $3 an hour to $20.21 an hour. It’s also offering a $3,000 bonus that will be paid in increments. The original signing bonus was $1,000.

The perks are being made possible through state funding.

Superintendent Merv Daugherty said 33 people are currently training to become bus drivers with the district. But Daugherty said it may take several months to fill all open positions because the hiring process can take up to three weeks.

Schools across the U.S. are offering hiring bonuses, providing the training needed to get a commercial driver’s license and increasing hourly pay to attract more drivers.

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The driver shortfall isn’t new, but a labor shortage across many sectors and the pandemic’s lingering effects have made it worse, since about half the workforce was over 65 and more vulnerable to the virus, said Joanna McFarland, co-founder and CEO of school ride-service company HopSkipDrive, which tracks school bus issues.