FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – Southwest Allen County Schools (SACS) welcomed the media to see what it’s like to drive a school bus Tuesday morning at the “YOU Can Drive a School Bus” event.
WANE 15’s Jada Jones drove a school bus with the help of Joel Rossi, a school bus driver with SACS. The initiative was in response to a national bus driver shortage. It has caused SACS to get creative with its recruiting process.
“We’re trying to increase the applicant flow, we need to get more drivers in here,” Michael Martin, Director of Transportation at SACS, said.
The event featured a small course with cones shaped to form an S for drivers to navigate through. Instructors discussed safety initiatives, explained what each button and feature is used for, and directed drivers throughout their time in the driver’s seat.
Martin said there are many misconceptions that size plays a big part in if someone is eligible to become a bus driver.
“I know there’s misconceptions of being too short or too tall to drive a bus, those seats are so adjustable,” Martin told WANE 15’s Jada Jones.
There are also incentives to becoming a bus driver. SACS and many other districts are offering a program where they will pay for your training, and reimburse you for your CDL License. SACS pays for up to 40 hours of training. Martin said it usually takes about 25 to 30 hours of training before drivers are prepared. The starting pay is also a minimum of $21.00 an hour, based on experience.
“Even when you get trained, you still ride with other drivers, with kids on the bus, so you kind of get a feel for how it is to have a bus full of kids,” Rossi said.