I don't know if we've ever run into this problem before...as you know, post pandemic hiring has been really hard. We are seeing it with retail stores, restaurants and other service industries but what about our schools?  Our kiddos are finally ready to go back to school in person in the fall and now it will be harder than ever to get them there.

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In particular, Tom's River is in desperate need of at least 25 new bus drivers by this coming September. The school district needs them so badly they are now offering $3,000 signing bonuses! If these roles don't get filled, things may have to change like the hours of your child's school day.

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So, 15,000 students need to be transported to and from school each school day to 18 different schools in the Toms River school district.  That's a lot of driving. The average salary for a full time 40 hour a week school bus driver in this district is a bit over $30,000, and drivers who work 32.5 hours a week earn $25,000.  The signing bonus of $3,000 is on top of that.  In addition, the district does pay for training and the job comes with health benefits and a state pension but apparently this is not nearly enough.  Salaries are under negotiation with the transportation workers union so that may bring some new applicants in once resolved. If you or anyone you know would like to  apply to become a Toms River school bus driver here is a link to apply.
This shortage may also have to result in reducing the number of routes which will no doubt make things harder on working families. For now, earlier start times for some schools and later starts for others may be the most likely option. Currently, Intermediate North begins at 7:15 a.m., and all elementary schools begins at 9:20 a.m.

Read more about the original story from The Patch here.

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