NEW HOPE, Minn. — Many things are in the works to ensure the new school year starts out right. That includes securing enough bus drivers to get students to school safely.
Last school year, a bus driver shortage left many families scrambling to find alternative ways to get their kids to school.
But this year, many school leaders can confirm the situation has slightly improved.
Dave Herzuck is more than ready to welcome back students this year.
"We'll be welcoming about 9,500 students on the first day of school," he said.
Herzuck is a bus driver at Durham School Services in New Hope. They pick up students from Robbinsdale Area Schools.
Herzuck had been driving for a little over a year now. He came out of retirement for a special reason.
"My grandson is a student in the school district, and he didn't have a ride last year," he said.
So Herzuck spent hours training, hoping to be a part of the bus driver shortage solution.
"We all have played kind of unique role in the challenge of educating kids these days," said Herzuck.
Now that a new school year is here, school districts are working hard to make sure what happened last year, doesn't happen now.
"We're in a much, much better place. We've been working hard all summer long to recruit drivers," said Clinton Holder, the general manager at Durham School Services.
Holder says Durham School Services is offering more than most to hire drivers and keep the ones they have.
"We're offering a $2,000 sign-on bonus for somebody without any experience, and then a $5,000 bonus for somebody with existing CDL experience," said Holder.
The company is also giving drivers unlimited $1,000 referral bonuses.
If you decide to stay on as a driver, you could qualify for a $2,500 loyalty bonus during your second year.
Bonuses are paid out quarterly in four equal payments.
Those offers were a big hit. The company already has 82 drivers, but is still looking for about 20 drivers to jump on board.
While the cash is a big draw, Holder says you also can't pass up their environment.
"[We want] to be the greener grass that people are looking for," he said.
As for Herzuck, he hopes more people will join the team, so they can experience the same joys he has while behind the wheel.
"[I have a lot] of fun stories [and] learning experiences," said Herzuck. "But in the same breath, it was a great opportunity to serve the community, children, and our youth in such a unique way."
If you're interested in applying, you can find more information here.
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