NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Many Middle Tennessee school districts are looking to fill dozens of bus driver positions with the start of a new school year being just weeks away.

Wilson County Schools spokesperson Bart Barker said he wishes he could wave a wand and provide the district with 15 new bus drivers needed for the upcoming school year. Barker said that’s how dire the shortage has become, and it isn’t exclusive to Wilson County. 

In fact, in Maury County, the district is short by 23 bus drivers and is offering a three percent raise as an incentive to get those seats filled. 

Metro Public Schools said it was short more than 70 bus drivers last year, which required the distinct to expand and combine bus routes. The district said it is diligently looking to hire as many drivers as possible this summer and into the upcoming school year to close that gap. New hires with the Metro school district are being offered a pay raise with the hourly pay increasing from $16.05 an hour to $22.25 an hour. 

Barker said there’s no better time than now to become a bus driver.

“This is a very ideal position for someone who may be a parent that wants to go and have a schedule that goes along with their student in our district, or maybe a recent retiree that says you know what, I’m retired from my job, but you know what, I want to stay busy doing something and add some supplementary income to our household,” explained Barker.

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Some school districts are starting to see results, such as Clarksville Montgomery County Schools, which had 50 applicants apply to fill driver seats this summer. The starting hourly pay for CMCSS bus drivers has increased from $16.27 to $18.66 per hour, with the maximum rate at $27.72 an hour. A sign-on bonus is also being offered.

Metro Public Schools will hold a career fair on Saturday, July 16, from 9 a.m. to noon at the Martin Professional Center for drivers, support employees, and teacher candidates wanting to apply to work with the district.