KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Finding bus drivers for the upcoming school year has become a challenge for many school districts across the metro, including at Kansas City Public Schools.

We’re only about a month away from when buses will start bringing kids back to schools in Kansas City and others across the metro.

To help with hiring, Kansas City Public Schools is now offering a $2,000 signing bonus for new drivers. The jobs start at $18.25 an hour during training with a $1 an hour pay increase after drivers become fully qualified.

Drivers like Jerome Franklin said the labor shortage has created challenges ever since kids returned to the classroom full time following the pandemic shutdown.

“Once school resumed normal operation hours, we were kind of short drivers, and we had to double up some routes and some days some routes didn’t run,” Franklin said. “Kids got picked up extremely late, so it was kind of difficult.”

Kansas City Public Schools currently has about 110 bus drivers, but would like to have 145 on staff.

These positions offer family friendly schedules, and the district is targeting school district parents and guardians who are looking to make some extra money.

Those interested can apply here.

For the first time, Kansas City Public Schools will also pay its current bus drivers a $500 referral bonus for each new driver they bring to the district.

DS Bus Lines, which provides buses for local school districts like Olathe, Shawnee Mission and Belton, also said it is offering an above-market starting wage and benefits to attract bus drivers and monitors. A spokesperson said depending on the location, some drivers can make up to $23 per hour with experience.

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