bus drivers

The economy is humming and jobs are plentiful, which makes it tough for Kyrene School District to find school bus drivers. The district will hold a job fair for interested drivers this Saturday.

If you ever wanted to get the feel of sitting behind the steering wheel of a school bus, Kyrene School District is giving you a chance this weekend.

Of course, there won’t be a load of kids behind you.

But people who take advantage of Kyrene’s “Drive the Bus” event will have a chance to size up the seating and even tool around the parking lot at the district’s transportation headquarters, 8700 Kyrene Road, Tempe.

Kyrene officials have a simple motive for the event – 8:30-11:30 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 20: They need drivers and figure potential recruits might take to the job if they can get a feel of the road.

“Attendees will hear about the benefits of being a Kyrene School District bus driver – great hours, pay, benefits and work schedule – and all participants will have a hands-on opportunity to learn more about the basics of driving a school bus. Instructors will go over how to adjust mirrors, control speed and communicate via two-way radios,” said district spokeswoman Erin Helm.

“Potential drivers will drive the bus around the lot, and there will be on-site interviews for those who would like to move forward with potential employment,” she added.

Interested candidates should RSVP to 480-541-1705.

School districts throughout the region are hurting for bus drivers – a common occurrence when the economy is good and jobs plentiful.

Some districts have incurred such difficulties filling vacancies that they are pondering route changes that end up having kids stacked into buses like sardines. They also have banned a common practice of allowing kids to grab a ride on a friend’s bus if they had plans to get together after school.

Though Kyrene has not implemented any of those measures, Superintendent Jan Vesely said district officials have been studying whether it makes sense to start the school day at the same time for all elementary and middle school students, allowing for more efficient use of bus routes by transporting kids from all grades together.

Starting salary for Kyrene drivers is just under $14 an hour, and trainees are paid while they learn.

The few current and former Kyrene bus drivers who have posted job reviews on the indeed.com site speak favorably about the work.

“Start early in the morning with a break during the midday and back for the afternoon run,” said one review. “Kids are kids, so you have to be able to drive and handle kids at the same time.”

Another advised that multi-tasking and patience are “essential,” though “you work with some great people, and some fantastic kids.”

Another said, “A great place to work, a lot of caring co-workers and happy place to be.”

And another wrote, “Management is always concerned with what’s going on daily on your routes and how you are doing personally. The hardest part of my job is always making my kids I transport daily have a better day and with a smile. What I do enjoy most is the love I receive from the kids every day.”

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