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D49 Investing in Transportation to Return Service to Families
Facing an ongoing shortage of drivers and indefinite reduction in service, the District 49 transportation department is investing in its current corps and offering better pay to attract new candidates. For the first time in five years, D49 is providing a major pay increase for new and existing drivers, improving base pay for entry-level drivers by more than $2.00 an hour, effective July 1, 2021.
“We are pleased we have this opportunity to adjust compensation for a role that has been understaffed for the last few years - but critically so this last year, and we are hopeful this support will restore reliability of service to families,” said Brett Ridgway D49 chief business officer. “All of our employees will benefit from the improving economic stability in the coming year, however we also realize we need to address a critical need with available resources.”
D49 needs dozens of drivers to restore basic services in the fastest growing school district in the state of Colorado. The transportation team slashed general routes to safely operate on a limited capacity during the COVID-19 pandemic. Although public health conditions are improving to increase in-person attendance in August, the driver shortage will force D49 transportation to start the school year at the same reduced capacity, offering fewer overall routes, cutting most transportation for extra-curricular activities, and cancelling field trip support altogether.
“No matter how we slice it, our families will feel the pain and will have to plan for the inconvenience if we cannot hire more drivers,” Pietraallo said.
In the meantime, the district is working to fill dozens of openings as quickly as possible with the goal of adding back some routes and services during the first semester.
“Training new drivers is a process that takes time,” Pietraallo explained. “The good news is, we compensate our new hires through the entire process.” D49 drivers receive a benefits package that includes a signing bonus of up to $1,000 that begins upon obtaining a commercial driver’s license (CDL). New drivers take home hourly pay during training which includes CDL certification.
D49 will also continue updating recruiting efforts, turning to its customers to help find good candidates. “We think the families we serve are a great network who could connect us with people looking for work opportunities,” said Pietraallo. “We want to make this strategy a win-win.”
For more information on applying for employment as a school bus driver for D49, go to the Transportation Services page at D49.org.