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Help wanted: Albany schools incentivize bus drivers with multiple bonuses

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School bus

Albany school bus driver Al Steward waits for students to load his bus at Memorial Middle School. The district is offering incentives for new bus drivers.

Facing a nationwide shortage of qualified drivers, Greater Albany Public Schools has started a campaign to hire more bus drivers.

With routes already condensed from 38 to 32 in the district, there have been several days this school year that have been “too difficult to cover,” GAPS Transportation Supervisor Cindy Moran said.

To incentivize future drivers, GAPS is offering a $500 bonus to new employees upon completion of their training period. Another $500 will be awarded after a six-month period, and another $500 after one year with the district.

For new drivers with driving experience and a commercial driver license, but without an Oregon Department of Education certification, the district will provide $500 after completing their ODE certification, another $500 after six months and $750 after a year.

New drivers with a CDL, driving experience and an ODE certification will receive $500 for their training time, $750 after six months and $1,000 after a year.

GAPS classified employees who refer a new driver will also receive $500 once the new bus driver completes their probationary period. All GAPS classified employees, excluding district directors and district recruiters, are eligible for the incentive.

“Bus drivers are some of the most important employees,” interim Superintendent Rob Saxton said in a news release. “They are the first to greet students each day and see them off at the end of the day. They get them safely to school and other activities and our district simply cannot run efficiently without them.”

Bus drivers must be fully vaccinated in order to drive for the district. GAPS Operations Supervisor LeAnne Poris said the incentive is valid through June 30, 2022, and will then be re-evaluated for effectiveness and could be renegotiated.

Those interested in applying for a bus driver position with GAPS should visit their website at albany.k12.or.us/district/transportation.

Joanna Mann covers education for Mid-Valley Media. She can be contacted at 541-812-6076 or Joanna.Mann@lee.net. Follow her on Twitter via @joanna_mann_. 

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