Oak Park schools hiring now to fill school bus driver openings

The Oak Park school district is looking for bus drivers with job openings ready to be filled.

"We will train you, you don't even have to have a license, we'll walk you through it, then you can be part of the Oak Park family," said Steve Burnett, Oak Park Schools. "We currently have 29 drivers and we're looking to fill five to six more positions."

"First Student is a third-party contractor, they provide our transportation here."

School districts and school bus companies across the country are tackling a shortage of bus drivers to take kids to and from school, field trips, and sporting events. Recruitment efforts are now taking center stage.

"Every week we have a farmers' market and we try to set up school tent there and doing blasts on social media," he said. "The wages are very competitive."

But a shortage still exists.

FOX 2: "Do you think the pandemic has made it worse?"

"Yes, and I think the pandemic has made it worse across the country," Burnett said. "And I don't think government paying out all the unemployment compensation is helping."

Burnett says school bus drivers in his district earn about $19 per hour to start, but there are job requirements.

"You'll have to carry a (Commercial Driver's License) with a passenger and school bus endorsement," Burnett said. "Take a road test, you have to be subjected to random drug testing, you have to go to bus school every other year."

But a shortage of school bus drivers is not the only problem some districts are facing.

"It's even harder to find bus monitors,  those are the people who ride on the bus to assist the bus driver," he said.

Burnett says the district is in need of 6 additional monitors as the search continues for monitors and school bus drivers

"I think in the future, we're going to have to be very creative in how we do busing," he said. "We're going to have to look at turning over every stone and try to do the best we can with limited staffing."