Bus service companies like Kottke's in Andover are busy training new drivers for the coming school year. They currently have 170 drivers and are looking to add several more to their staff.
"We're looking for AM and PM route drivers,” said Jess Kotchen, the marketing and recruiting manager for Kottkes’ Bus Service. “We're also looking for those drivers to fill in for activities and sporting events and field trips and things like that."
Kottkes' serves the Anoka-Hennepin School District, which is the state's largest school district. The pay for new bus drivers has gone up to $24 an hour, which is two dollars an hour more than last school year. Also, there are hiring bonuses depending on whether you’re licensed or not.
“If you're fully licensed with your CDL, your school bus and your passenger endorsement, it's a $3,500 hiring bonus, Kotchen said. “And then we also offer a $1,500 dollar retention bonus."
Kottkes' also has a need for mini van drivers, to drive one of their brand new Chrysler mini vans, starting at $19 dollars an hour.
"Those drivers don't need a special license, it's just a regular Class D,” Kotchen said. “They do some training and are driving a vehicle here. And it's a seven passenger mini van with potentially one to four students onboard.”
Plus, Kottkes’ says they value their drivers beyond the paycheck.
"We do something every month to show our appreciation of our drivers," Kotchen said.