Scramble to fill bus driver positions ahead of school year

Back to school season means some Twin Cities metro school districts are working to fill school bus driver shortages.

"We're probably more short than we ever have been in the past for school bus drivers," said Dan Zezza, the location manager for First Student.

First Student officials say they are the bus contractor for Osseo Area Schools, Roseville Area Schools, Wayzata Public Schools and more.

Zezza says First Student is facing a shortage of 50 to 60 drivers statewide out of at least 1,300 total drivers.

"Every day, every week, we have one or two job fairs," he said. "We're active on social media, we're active on the job boards."

Zezza says 40 to 50 potential drivers are going through more than 50 hours of training and background checks right now. The goal is to put the brakes on the shortage with driver jobs starting around $18 an hour.

"With the economy the way it is, with the drug test background check, state regulation - I think people are a little intimidated," he said.

FOX 9 obtained a letter from Osseo Area Schools notifying families of potential disruptions. It says students may experience delayed buses and possibly centralized bus stop locations.

Osseo Area School's director of transportation operations released a statement saying 22 of the district's 163 routes still need drivers.

"Parents can be assured, though, that First Student will have a plan to cover every route by the time school starts next Tuesday," read the statement.

Officials with St. Paul Public Schools say they are working to fill 30 to 40 driver positions, but say that will not impact their routes at this point. Meanwhile, Anoka-Hennepin says their bus company has a driver for every route.

For more information about applying for a bus driver position with First Student, click here.