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Stillwater kicks off school bus driver recruitment event due to shortage statewide

Updated: August 08, 2019 06:32 PM

Minnesota Central School Bus says there's a bus shortage all across the country and the Stillwater Public School District isn't immune.

5 EYEWITNESS NEWS went to Stillwater for the inaugural 'Drive The Bus: Lunch On Us' event. It was a first-of-its-kind bus driver recruitment event to help solve the problem.

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Tegan Brown, of River Falls, Wisconsin said on Thursday, "I'm learning how to drive a school bus! I know that they were short drivers."

Minnesota Central School Bus said it's trying to get potential applicants more comfortable. Amy Monicken, assistant contract manager, said one of people's biggest fears is simply driving something so big. The event is inviting people to take a spin in its bus terminal site where a course was set up.

And it's an important job, making the school and community's wheels go-round.

"The importance of being the first person that kids see during the day, and the last school person that they might see in the afternoon," Brown said. That alone made her want to apply. So, she went to the event to get a better understanding. 

The Minnesota School Bus Operators Association said nearly every school district in the state is facing a bus driver shortage. They added some districts need a handful of new drivers, while others need more than 100.

Minneapolis Public Schools' Chief Operating Officer said it still has "significant" needs.

St. Paul Public Schools said there's definitely a need and its working with companies that are offering incentives. 

In Stillwater, there are 114 bus drivers on staff. Minnesota Central School Bus said it needs 25 more.

"The other fear is they don't know [how to drive.] And we train them from start to finish. You don't have to have experience to come and drive," Monicken said.


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Potential applicant Doug Faltesek, of Hugo, said while laughing "no, that's not going to scare me off. The kids will scare me off!"

The training never ends. Minnesota Central School Bus said it has monthly safety meetings for all employees. 

Jackie Savage has been driving a school bus with the Stillwater Public School District for 40 years.

"We have to make these kids have a positive day, and it's really important to get to know the students, that's one of my goals," she said.

The event goes on until 7:30 p.m. at 5288 Stagecoach Trail North. Those that are interested have the oppotunity of getting behind the wheel to see what it's like. There also are games and food, so organizers said people can bring the entire family.

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Brandi Powell

Copyright 2019 - KSTP-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company

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