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RCSD offers incentives to attract and retain bus drivers

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The Rochester City School District is offering incentives to current and future school bus drivers to help minimize the impacts of a staffing shortage.

The bus driver shortage has been an issue nationwide, partly due to retirements and some drivers concerned about potential exposure to COVID-19.

Rochester school officials had to scramble at the start of school in September to get drivers lined up, and a statement released on Monday said that since then, several adjustments were made to ensure safe travel for the more than 29,000 students who receive transportation from the RCSD.

District officials said that they have been working with BENTE, the bargaining unit that represents bus drivers and some other employees, to help attract and retain current workers.

The incentives include a hiring bonus of up to $2,500 for any school bus driver who is hired between now and April 1, 2022.

Any current employee, prior to October 25, 2021, whose position requires a Commercial Drivers’ License is eligible to get a $2,500 retention bonus if they remain with the district for one year.

Any current driver who is absent two days or less per semester is eligible for a $250 attendance bonus; and up to 200 current employees who refer an individual to the district as either a school bus driver, clerical, food service, school safety officer, paraprofessional or teaching assistant, will get a referral bonus of $100.

Superintendent Lesli Myers-Small said that, “retaining our employees is critical,” and she hopes to attract more people to district positions.

Randy Gorbman is WXXI's director of news and public affairs. Randy manages the day-to-day operations of WXXI News on radio, television, and online.