FWCS sees increase of bus drivers with sign-on, referral bonuses

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A Northwest Indiana school district has laid off 90 employees because of a reduction in state funding after a move to virtual learning.

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) — All across the area, school districts are looking to hire school bus drivers. Fort Wayne Community Schools (FWCS) is hiring both full and part-time bus drivers with sign-on bonuses for all new drivers.

“You got to have a love for kids to work in this business,” said Frank Jackson, FWCS Director of Transportation. “We are encouraging folks to come and apply with us.”

FWCS transports more than 16,000 students, twice a day, in 205 yellow buses that cover over 145 square miles. By the end of the school year that adds up to more than 3.6 million miles traveled.

When completely staffed the district has 205 bus drivers. However, like several school districts, Jackson said FWCS is struggling to find bus drivers to transport students back and forth to school. That’s why FWCS has put in place an incentive program.

“We have a $2,000 dollar sign-on bonus for new drivers as well as a referral program,” Jackson said. “So any employee of Fort Wayne Community Schools can refer a candidate and if that candidate is successful and becomes a bus driver that referral source can receive $1,000 dollars.”

Since announcing the sign-on bonus in May, Jackson says the school has seen an increase in interest. Right now there are seven drivers in training to get their CDL with seven more in the early stages of getting employed. Anyone without a CDL can apply to be a bus assistance and the district said it will train bus assistants to become a bus driver.

The salary range for a bus driver is $18.46 – $24 per hour and comes with benefits including health, dental, and eye insurance. But Jackson says there’s more to the job than just the pay.

“Folks should become a bus driver because kids need role models, kids need positive people in their lives,” Jackson said. “The bus driver is the first person that a child encounter to start their day out and the last person to end their day. So there is a positive impact that bus drivers make on children every day.”

Jackson says the sign-on bonus will stay in place until the district is fully staffed at 205 drivers.

For more information and to apply, click here.

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