Fort Calhoun Community Schools is not unique in its bus driver shortage, but the district still hopes more people will see the joy in the occupation.
The district has nine drivers, some contract and a few coaches for the athletic teams, and has had several retire over the past two years.
Dave Neumann, the district's transportation director, said bus driving for FCCS has plenty of perks, such as good pay, well-behaved students and modern equipment.
A couple nerves do come up when Neumann tries recruiting bus drivers, however.
"They're either nervous about how they could never drive a bus because it's too big... and the other is people are nervous about driving kids," Neumann said.
The district has around 40 students per five routes riding the bus in the morning and afternoon. For activities, some sports take multiple buses or vans.
Jerry Green, FCCS superintendent, said though the district has the amount of bus drivers to make it work, he's hoping for more applicants to have back-ups.
"We're just constantly looking for that next wave of people to come in and give us a little bit of room for sickness, vacation time, those types of things," he said. "Rain or shine, bus routes have to run."
To become a bus driver, one must have a commercial driver's license, a passenger endorsement, an air break endorsement and level 1 training, which is an eight-hour class that will last four years.
"I think the thing people don't realize is it pays really well," Neumann said. "We're also super flexible— if somebody wants to only drive in the morning or night or wants to be put down as a sub."
Green said in part with training, the drivers need to have the right personality to drive the students.
"You are hauling a pretty significant and important product, and so we want to make sure we get the right person in the seat and someone who's comfortable and confident," he said.
Neumann said something he enjoys about his crew is their dependability.
"We're fortunate that we have super good employees here," he said.
With COVID-19, Green said students and drivers wear masks, and drivers do have an extra step of sanitizing their bus every day.
"It's the same procedures we're using in school," he said.
Neumann, who's also a volunteer firefighter, said he's been getting the word out of the bus driver positions through word of mouth, and also through the district's website.
One perk of bus driving is the relationships drivers can build with students throughout their entire school career, Green said.
"Just like a teacher, when you're in a classroom with a set of kids every day, you build relationships and you get to know those kids and their families," he said. "When you're a bus driver, it's the same thing."
Those interested can contact the school at 402-468-5591 and ask for Green or Neumann.