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Rockford Public Schools continues to work through bus shortage

Staff Report

ROCKFORD — Rockford Public School District 205 is finalizing transportation plans for October as it continues to work through the nationwide worker shortage and how it is affecting its roster of bus drivers.

In the last month, the district has been able to hire 25 drivers to add to a 150-member transportation staff. Most of the new drivers have not started yet, as training and certification will take time.

“In September, we are running 148 of our 160 needed bus routes,” the district wrote in a letter to parents. “We’ll start October running 150 routes each day, which means 10 routes each day will not have an RPS 205 driver available. The second and third weeks of October, we plan to run 152 routes each day. By the end of the month, we hope that number of unavailable bus routes will drop to six or fewer each day.”

Schools will continue to provide extended drop-off and pick-up time for families when regular busing won’t be provided. Affected bus routes will continue rotating among schools. Drivers will be assigned so no single school is more affected than others.

All RPS 205 staff who are eligible to drive a bus are driving to cover any absences. That includes the district’s executive director of transportation and transportation management team.

The district is still hiring drivers and encourages anyone who is interested to apply. A first-year driver can earn nearly $39,000.

Salary includes a $3,000 signing bonus and up to $5,500 a year in attendance bonuses. Starting pay is $15.30 an hour with full-time benefits, including health insurance and life insurance. The job includes 12 paid holidays and paid training, with opportunities for evening routes, field trips and summer routes.

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