SIOUX FALLS, SD (KELO) — It’s getting to be crunch time for School Bus Inc as the company tries to fill nearly 3-dozen bus driver vacancies before the start of school next month. It’s even more of a challenge this year with two new schools opening their doors to students.
Kevin Robertson draws upon his flight mechanic skills he learned in the Air Force to make sure his school bus is running properly.
“It makes it easy and it makes it simple to do an inspection on a bus. Just don’t expect wings to come out of the side of it and fly away, that’s all,” Robertson said.
This retired Air Force mechanic, who’s been a driver with School Bus Inc for two years, is known affectionately as “Mr. K” to his students.
“I call them my precious cargo. We want to keep the kids safe. We want to make sure the bus is safe, we want to make sure the people around us are in their everyday vehicles are safe as well,” Robertson said.
“We’re going to let you drive around the parking lot to get a feel of the bus,” Robertson said.
Robertson is training new bus driver recruits so they can be ready to take over the wheel when school starts.
School Bus Inc needs more drivers than ever with the new Jefferson High School and Ben Reifel Middle School opening up new routes for the coming school year.
“It will require the need for additional equipment, which we have ordered, and will have on hand the first day of school and it will also require the need for perhaps 7-8 additional drivers,” School Bus Inc Vice-President Steve Hey said.
School Bus Inc is short about 35 drivers total. It takes around 2-3 weeks to train them for their commercial licenses, so the sooner they can sign up more drivers, the sooner they’re ready to hit the road.
“We want to tell people that we are interested in coming to work for us that you’ve got to plan ahead and make sure that you get here in time, so we can have you ready for that first day of school,” Hey said.
School Bus Inc has raised the hourly wage and hopes signing and retention bonuses will ensure that many more people will be in the driver’s seat by the time school rolls around.
School Bus Inc has also hired a full-time driver recruiter and will have a booth set up at the Sioux Empire Fair, which starts August 5th.
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