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Forest Hills Public Schools District attracting bus driver recruits

Forest Hills Public Schools bus
Forest Hills Public Schools
Forest Hills Public Schools
Forest Hills Public Schools bus

School districts across the state experiencing a bus driver shortage are struggling to operate routes.

“We’re at the point now where we really had to think outside the box. Like our Ride & Drive event.”

“I like big cars (laughing).”

“We’re at the point now where we’ve really had to think outside the box. Like our ride and drive event.”

“All we do is just let them drive it around in a circle. Just so they can actually get the feel of what a bus is like.”

Matthew Jeknavorian is a Forest Hills Public Schools bus driver assisting job applicants. Some with no experience behind the wheel.

“The difference between this and a car is it has a lot more in the back.”

Eight district bus drivers retired early or took a leave of absence during the pandemic. That forced the district to park eight buses and cancel over a dozen routes. In a tight labor market, will the job fair attract bus driver candidates?

“And, of course, you have the nightmares that no one shows up.”

“I’m Julie Davis, the Assistant Superintendent for fiancé and operations.”

“Hoping that we would get a great turnout.”

Forest Hills is competing with other districts in a similar predicament. Thirty hopefuls showed up exceeding expectations.

“We are offering $1,500 for a sign-on. For a new driver to come to our district.”

Todd Sharp is Director of Transportation.

“Also offering a $500 referral for any of our existing staff if they refer a new driver to us.”

Hourly starts at $16. Drivers with experience receive over $20 to start.

“I’m not actually doing it for that. It’s…I don’t want the buses getting cancelled.

Lizzie has four children. All in the same district attending different schools.

“Now, I’m lucky because I have my own schedule, but there are other parents don’t and it’s, it’s bad.”

A difficult situation, she’s now a part of the solution. One of 10 bus driver recruited receiving four weeks of behind-the-wheel training. Forest Hills says once that process is complete bus routes will be fully staffed.

Patrick joined WGVU Public Media in December, 2008 after eight years of investigative reporting at Grand Rapids' WOOD-TV8 and three years at WYTV News Channel 33 in Youngstown, Ohio. As News and Public Affairs Director, Patrick manages our daily radio news operation and public interest television programming. An award-winning reporter, Patrick has won multiple Michigan Associated Press Best Reporter/Anchor awards and is a three-time Academy of Television Arts & Sciences EMMY Award winner with 14 nominations.
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