Vital need, small pool: Mona Shores offers big bonus to draw bus drivers

Muskegon County

NORTON SHORES, Mich. (WOOD) — Driving a school bus is a part-time job at Mona Shores Public Schools, but one of great importance. 

“Bus drivers are essential,” Mona Shores Superintendent Bill O’Brien said. “Often the first person to see a kid in a day and last person to say goodbye to a kid at the end of day. We need them.” 

They are so necessary that the district is offering a $2,500 sign-on bonus for new bus drivers. 

It previously offered a $500 bonus.

“$2,500 is where we landed, we put it out there and it’s gotten attention,” O’Brien said. “We want good people. We want people who want to be here.”

It can take between 30 and 40 days before a new driver hits the road to pick up and drop off students. The drivers will receive the $2,500 bonus after 90 days. 

The district’s first day of school is Tuesday. There are enough drivers to get students to and from school now but getting them to extracurricular activities is a concern.

“We are having conversations about can we get athletic teams to this competition, that competition,” O’Brien said. “Hasn’t reached the point yet where we’re canceling school runs to and from.”

The district began advertising for new drivers a couple of weeks ago. Interest has been lukewarm, so it’s offering current employees a $500 “finder’s fee” if they can successfully recommend a new hire. 

Certainly not unique in our problem,” O’Brien said of the lack of drivers. “I think our approach to solve it is unique, but I’d guess there’s going to be other districts trying to match our incentive program shortly. Just kind of how it goes when we’re competing for a pool that is not deep right now.”

A sign announces that Mona Shores Public Schools is seeking bus drivers. (Sept. 3, 2021)

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