Poplar Bluff school district makes effort to keep bus drivers during shortage

POPLAR BLUFF, Mo. (KBSI) – Summer is almost over and teachers and students are preparing for another school year but school districts may be missing an important group of people this year. 

They see your children first thing in the morning and take them home at the end of the school day. School bus drivers play a vital role in making sure many kids get an education. But across the country, school districts are struggling to find ways to keep drivers on the job. 

In Poplar Bluff, Transportation Director Jon Mckinney says they are working to make sure drivers feel appreciated.   

“Cross the state that is something we are working on here at Poplar Bluff is appreciating our drivers,” said Mckinney. 

Poplar Bluff has offered signing bonuses of $500 and pay increases to help attract more interest in their bus driver positions. 

However, there are many reasons people are not applying for the job.

Mckinney says that new requirements may discourage people from applying. 

“We have new drivers coming along that are probably discouraged from the additional regulations and mandates that they have to meet just to get their driver’s license,” said Mckinney. 

Mckinney says right now, they have enough drivers to get the job done, but they are always looking for more people. 

Current school bus driver Mitchell Hughes remembers the challenges of being short-staffed. 

“A lot of us have to do, you know, not only our own routes but we have to go and do other routes, especially like even trips and shuttles and things,” said Hughes. 

Even though there can be extra work, Hughes says being a bus driver is an enjoyable experience and is important for the kids.  

“Myself in general I’ve had a lot of kids in the past that just love to come and talk to you and show grades to you or show things that they’ve done in class,” said Hughes. “It’s just people. Kids have to have somebody they can turn to.”

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