DELAVAN, Wis. — At Dousman Transport, school bus drivers are busy with last-minute testing and preparation before the start of school.
Shawn Wiedenhoeft is a new bus driver with the company. The recently retired military member and truck driver said this was a nice way to get back into the workforce.
"I got my route last week and the first thing I did was drive it in my car and take notes," said Shawn.
Shawn is one of the new recruits filling a void. Hiring bus drivers has been a challenge not only in Wisconsin but also nationwide. One way to attract new drivers is by increasing wages. According to the Vice President at Dousman Transport Co. Inc., Robert Krueger, most bus drivers at Dousman start at $18.35 an hour or more depending on the school district.
"That has helped us be more competitive in our wages," said Krueger.
He said that this year most school districts have enough staff, but there are a few districts that are short-staffed. However, he said they will have enough drivers to cover the first day of school.
"All of the full-time staff are licensed drivers as well, so when there are shortages, that means I’m not in my office, I’m on the road," said Krueger.
Krueger says the company is always hiring, from retired teachers to pastors - people from all walks of life and training. Part of the appeal is the hours and being able to take their own kids to school.
Shawn said he is excited and ready for the first day.
"I think it’ll be great, plus you feel like you’re giving a little back to society. It’s a good thing to do," said Shawn.
The Delavan-Darien School District's first day of school is on Sept. 6.