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First State school districts seek bus drivers amid statewide shortfall

School districts across Delaware are clambering to fill bus driver positions for the new school year.

But some districts are having more success than others.

School districts across Delaware and the U.S. report struggling to recruit and retain bus drivers. Tyler Bryan manages student transportation for Delaware Department of Education. He said things like the schedule, pay and the process involved in obtaining a commercial driver’s license turn off some applicants.

“You’re not making the same amount of money that you could make with a full-time job or even a full-time hourly job," he said. "I mean, mostly when you work an hourly job, you’re usually working eight hours, a bus driving job is more like four-to-six hours.”

Driver staffing varies statewide.

Kelly Shahan is the Red Clay Consolidated School District Transportation Manager. Red Clay mostly employs its own bus drivers, with some contractors. She said they’re in good shape because they made changes to make the job more attractive.

“We’re trying to treat them more like a full-time employee essentially, giving them medical benefits and as many hours as we can give them,” she said.

Bruce Ashby is transportation supervisor for Capital School District. He said the district is well staffed, but its contractors are struggling. He said one reason is that the district pays drivers more than the contractors.

District school bus drivers got a 2 percent raise in this year’s budget. The state has a formula they use to pay contractors and the contractors decide their drivers’ pay.

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