The Camas School District is not shy about its need for school bus drivers–and it’s breaking down barriers to fill that need.

In the past two years, multiple pleas have gone out to the Camas community as the District sought to fill its ever-dwindling substitute driver pool. However, as unemployment rates have decreased, the shortage of substitute drivers has steadily increased.

“It’s not a new problem for Camas or other districts in the state,” commented transportation director Laura Nowland. “When regular driver positions open in the district, we tend to hire staff from our substitute pool. This is great for our substitute drivers, but leaves us the challenge of filling that vacancy in the pool,” she added.

That challenge of filling the substitute pool is monumental as driver training time and licensure costs are significant. It costs a potential driver about $600 in fees, out of his/her own pocket, just to become eligible to drive a school bus. That investment is often too high for an individual who is looking for part time work.

The District recognizes that innovation, and investment, may be the answer and has implemented its first-ever bus driver incentive program. Beginning in April, people who apply and are selected to become substitute drivers will be paid minimum wage during the required training (40-60 hours). Additionally, the District will pay up to $600 of the fees to gain a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL). Once an individual has received their CDL, they will be required to work at least 500 hours for the District. Substitute drivers earn $16.68 per hour and can expect to work between 1-4 hours per day when they cover shifts for regular drivers.

Nowland said she hopes to find and train six more substitute drivers, which would put the District in a great place.

“If you have good people skills, enjoy working with children, and consider safety a top priority, driving a school bus would be a great job for you! We have an amazing team in the transportation department, and we can’t wait to expand our family of drivers,” Nowland commented.

Interested individuals should call the transportation department at 360-833-5585 for information.