New hires, trainees keep school buses rolling

By: 
Lisa Ingebrand, lrnews@frontiernet.net

Families depending on buses to get their children to and from New Prague schools can breathe a little easier.

The bus-driver shortage that threatened to cause a disruption in the district’s regular in-class education—and major headaches—has been averted, for now.

Superintendent Tim Dittberner informed the School Board, Monday night, Oct. 25, that new bus drivers have been hired and a few current school employees are in the process of getting their commercial drivers license (CDL).

“I’m pleased to report that with the help of people getting the word out, two more drivers have been hired and we’re looking better,” Dittberner stated. “As of now, the bus routes will not need to be changed.”

Following Dittberner’s report, the Board unanimously approved various incentives to attract new bus drivers and keep current drivers. These include:

• “Regular” bus drivers employed by the district as of Oct. 16, 2021, will receive an additional $.75 per hour temporary differential, which will end on March 15, 2022.

• A current (as of Oct. 6, 2021) transportation employee who refers a qualified regular route driver will receive a referral bonus of $500 after the referral has been employed for 90 days.

• New regular CDL route drivers hired between Oct. 16 and March 15, 2022, that have their CDL at the time of the offer of employment will receive a hiring/retention bonus of $1,000 paid in three increments ($250 in first paycheck, $500 after 90 calendar days of employment, and $250 on May 31, 2022).

• Qualified applicants for regular CDL route drivers without a current CDL license who are hired between Oct. 16 and March 15, 2022, will receive a $1,500 hiring/ retention bonus paid in three increments, and the district will provide the training materials and assistance in getting licensed.

These bus driver incentives are part of a Memorandum of Understanding that will sunset on June 30, 2022.

Dittberner also told the Board about additional school staffing shortages—outside of the district’s transportation department.

“Like other schools, we have staffing shortages in many departments. Right now, Nutrition Services is a big one,” he stated. “We continue to advertise these positions, and will hopefully fill them soon, but during this time of need, many teachers, support staff and administrators have stepped up to help serve and fill in where needed… It’s been an incredible team effort, and as we go through these challenging times, our great staff has consistently remained positive, adapted, and made it...

To see more on this story pick up the october 28, 2021 print edition of The New Prague Times. 

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