LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) -- Driving a school bus is a tough job, but the incentive to do it just got a little sweeter with Jefferson County Public Schools.
There's long been a local shortage of drivers but now a wage increase has administration hopeful they will be able to fill the 180 open spots. The wage increase to $21.65/hour from $16.95/hour.
The job sounds simple- taking kids to and from school. But Jayna Martin, who leads a team of 75 bus drivers, said with the driver shortage as bad as it is, the job is anything but simple.
"It’s a struggle, it really is," Martin said.
Her mornings begin at 5 a.m. when she starts mapping out the routes as an area coordinator.
"In the morning, it is chaos," she said.
Considering call outs and those on leave, she said she's typically down at least ten drivers and has to find some way to cover those routes.
Martin said, "It's very draining, it’s very stressful, and you have to remember to keep your composure because it’s not anyone's fault."
The administration said JCPS is seeing the same issue as most other major school districts.
"Right now there is a national epidemic of a shortage of bus drivers or just qualified people with a CDL license," Dr. Mike Raisor, JCPS Chief Operations Officer, said.
That's why the district is now working to set it’s spots apart by offering upwards of $20 an hour alongside other incentives, like a $150 bonus for staying 90 days and $200 attendance bonus every pay period.
"This is a critical, critical issue. We have to make sure we can get kids to school," Raisor said.
Raisor said he's hopeful the pay wage raise will be the incentive that makes all the difference.
Martin said she's counting on it.
"You always have to look for the good in anything and I'm at the part where it cannot get any worse," Martin said.
JCPS is hosting a transportation job fair Wednesday, Jan 17. from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m., C.B. Young Jr. Service Center, 3001 Crittenden Dr.
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