Make your home page

Carmel Clay School District offering incentive for bus driver shortage

HAMILTON COUNTY (WISH) — One school district in Hamilton County is hoping a new incentive program will help solve the shortage of bus drivers.

Carmel Clay School District said the problem got pretty bad last month for about two days.

The district didn’t have enough drivers to cover all the routes. 300 students were late getting to school or late getting home.

The district approved an incentive program earlier this week. It offered a $1,500 signing bonus for new drivers after experiencing a shortage this school year.

“There were some that felt it was better, the thought that the amount was too large,” said Roger McMichael, Carmel Clay Schools. “You know they may still feel it’s too large, but it’s been lowered by a thousand dollars.”

The bonus comes with several eligibility requirements, like driving a regular route for three months, receiving a satisfactory evaluation and staying on board until September.

McMichael said the bonus budget is capped at $22,500.

“It’s a shame that there aren’t enough people out there that care about the kids,” said Larry Davis, board member with the Indiana State School Bus Drivers Association.

Davis said many districts across the country are now offering different incentives to close the gap.

“It depends on the district. Some districts offer health insurance and vision and dental and that’s a big incentive,” said Davis. “I know there are a lot of business owners who will drive at a district that has benefits basically because they had the benefits.”

Davis and his wife have been longtime bus drivers. He said many people might turn down the opportunity because of the perception.

“I tell people about bus driving jobs everyday just because we love it so much,” said Davis. “The biggest thing I hear from people is I could never handle the kids. I’d end up strangling one of them.”

While the job may not be for everyone, Davis said the experience can be very rewarding in the end.

“My wife drives special needs and those are kids who really appreciate you and they let you know it,” said Davis. “There will be kids on my bus, they’ll come up, they’ll thank me and they’ll show me their report cards. They’ll give me gifts at Christmas time. There are some kids who really are good they really do appreciate it.”

The district also increased more money for drivers who have good attendance. The district paid around $19,000 in overtime to bus mechanics covering multiple routes.

Carmel Clay Schools currently has 163 drivers. The district is looking to hire 15 drivers.