School bus driver shortage looms as school year nears

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FOX VALLEY, Wis. (WBAY) - For many a new school year is just around the corner and that means school buses will resume their daily routes.

school buses parked in a row
(WBAY photo)

But right now areas around the US are facing a shortage of drivers including Wisconsin.

Kevin Sturn is a full-time farmer. In 2009, he started driving for the Hortonville School District to make extra money.

"But then I started doing it, I really liked the kids so then I just kept doing it," said Sturn.

The district wants people like Sturn to join the team.

Right now its short five drivers and is offering to pay more than $23 dollars an hour.

It believes misconceptions about driving a school bus and other factors are turning away perspective drivers.

"A lot of people feel like they’re not able to handle the type of vehicle,” Hortonville Director of Transportation Harold Steenbock said. "We'll give them all the training and everything they need to do to learn how to drive a bus."

Lamers in Menasha, which provides school buses and drivers for five area school districts, is also in a shortage. It's in need of seven drivers.

"Plain shortage of workers," said Paul Mennon, a manager at Lamers.

Lamers has held jobs fairs and driver recruitments to attract people.

It’s also offering a $1000 dollar signing bonus.

"A good part-time job, you can get 15-20 hours, we've increased wages where you can earn up to $18 dollars an hour," said Mennon.

Office staff will fill the two shortages for the time being.

But as Sturn will tell you, if you give it a try you may even learn something.

"Because I think they (students) teach me just as much as I teach them," said Sturn.