The Hamburg School District has a shortage of bus drivers even though a new Arkansas law passed this year made them eligible for benefits.
Bob Davis with HSD’s transportation department said he can not fill all of the school bus positions. Davis said he usually struggles with getting substitutes, but he usually can fill the regular routes. This year students are getting home after 5 p.m. because the district doesn’t have enough drivers and Davis said he is hoping to recruit drivers to remedy that issue soon.
Davis said they lost quite a few bus drivers when the state took health insurance away for drivers, but it was added back earlier this year.
“We had preachers and others who drove a bus just so their family would have insurance,” Davis said.
“When they took insurance away, we lost all of those.”
House Bill 1223 was presented and passed on March 27, becoming ACT 563. The Act is titled “An Act to Allow Certain Part-Time Public School Employees to Participate in the State and Public School Health Insurance Program.”
Davis said he additionally felt like people were just scared of trying it out.
“Sometimes that’s what it takes, is someone just saying they want to give it a shot,” Davis said. “We have cameras, we have good kids, it could be a really good income.”
Typically a bus driver would work from approximately 6 a.m. until 8 a.m. and again from 2:30 p.m. until 4 p.m. or 5 p.m., but Davis said he could help someone who is interested in working full-time find another opportunity during the day.
“I’ve been advertising to hire someone to wash buses and drive buses for two years and I haven’t had anyone interested,” Davis said.
“The two combined would be a pretty decent salary.”
Davis said if someone has a CDL, the school can assist with the other certifications and requirements. The Hamburg School District is working to put together other incentives to attract bus drivers as well. Davis said he doesn’t have any details yet, but there are discussions being had.
Davis said HSD is committed to keeping the students safe and getting them home from school in a timely manner and he needs to fill the positions with qualified individuals in order to do that.
Davis also said that teachers can add several thousand dollars to their retirement a year by driving a bus and it’s a good way for a teacher nearing retirement to boost their retirement.
Anyone interested in learning more about driving a HSD school bus can contact Davis in the transportation office. The Hamburg School District can be reached at 870-853-9851.