BERKELEY COUNTY, S.C. (WCBD) – The Berkeley County School District is offering revamped incentives to new bus drivers. It’s part of the approach to tackle the driver shortage, an obstacle for school districts nationwide.
A State of School Transportation survey and report by HopSkipDrive says 78% of survey respondents are constrained by the driver shortage and 81% report that the issue has been made worse by the COVID-19 pandemic. The shortage has been long-term and existed before the pandemic.
In the Berkeley County School District, there are 58 open bus driver positions. The districts Director of Transportation, Eric Scriven, says in order to be fully staffed, the district would need to have a body for every bus. That would be 253 drivers for the same number of busses in the fleet. As of Tuesday, BCSD has 195 drivers.
The shortage impacts current drivers because they may have to pick up two loads of children in order to get everyone to and from school. In Berkeley County, around 22,000 students rely on school busses.
“My anticipation is to have us fully staffed at the beginning of the school year or leading in shortly after,” said Scriven.
To reach that goal, Scriven says BCSD is offering new hire incentives.
- A $1,000 signing bonus if a driver stays on for at least the first semester of the school year (June-December)
- Another $1,000 bonus if a driver remains with the district for the second semester of the school year (December-June)
“With the incentives and the recent increase by our state and our district board, the starting pay now is $16 an hour to be a school bus driver for Berkeley County,” said Scriven.
Scriven says the job is year-round. That includes the regular school year as well as summer school.
In order to be a bus driver, a commercial drivers license (CDL) is required. If a new hire already has a CDL, the process to begin driving for the school district will be quicker. If a new hire does not have a CDL, an additional training course will be required. A state driving class is required for all new hires.
To apply to be a BCSD bus driver, click here.