RCSD offering incentives to new, current bus drivers

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — The Rochester City School District (RCSD) is offering incentives to current and new bus drivers in the hopes of retaining current employees and attracting more.

The incentives include a hiring bonus of up to $2,500 for drivers hired through April 1, 2022.

Any employee hired before Oct. 25, 2021, whose position requires a Commercial Drivers’ License is eligible for a $2,500 retention bonus, as long as they stay with the district for one year.

Current employees who are absent two days or less per semester are eligible for a $250 attendance bonus at the end of the semester.

The district is also creating a recruiting bonus of $100 for the first 200 employees who refer someone for a bus driver, clerical, food service, school safety officer, paraprofessional or teaching assistant in the RCSD.

A release from the RCSD says it worked with BENTE, the union that represents non-teaching employees in the district, including bus drivers, to come up with the incentives.

RCSD Chief of Human Capital Christopher Miller said the money for the programs is coming from the transportation budget that the RCSD received from the state.

Miller said the district is looking to boost its numbers to about 90, and that truck drivers, or those who drive for companies like Amazon, will be considered immediately.

He says current bus drivers earn between $18 and $20 per hour.

"We need school bus drivers to run our routes to service our children, and our families, and we want people that we can train, we can support, and that can care for our children the way we need them to be cared for," Miller said.

BENTE Union Local 2419 represents all city school bus drivers. President Dan DiClemente said the union is pretty excited with the program, especially when it comes to retaining current drivers.

"That was important to us to make sure that the drivers who have been here, who have been working this whole time also qualify for the incentive," said DiClemente. He continued, "So we’re pretty excited that we came to terms with the district on an agreement."

DiClemente said the district will also pay for training.

"The district is willing to offer that so I think that’s an important step because there’s a shortage of CDL drivers to begin with. So we really need to bring people in, get them trained to get their CDL, and then get hired through the district, and qualify for the incentive," DiClemente said.

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