The Marion School District is looking for bus drivers, and a progressive incentive package is in place to attract and retain qualified drivers to the district.

“We’re hungry. We’re looking for people who are willing to work even if they don’t have the experience,” said Dusty Duncan, assistant superintendent for the Marion School District. “If they are willing and come with the right attitude and like kids and are concerned for the safety of the kids, we will teach them everything they need to know to get their commercial driver’s license.”

MSD will offer the following incentives to bus drivers who are new to the school district:

  • $1,000 signing bonus ($500 to be paid at the end of each semester; bonus prorated for drivers employed after the first day of the semester)
  • Pay for individuals’ DMV instruction packet ($60 value)
  • Pay during training ($21.69 per hour)
  • Flexible training time to accommodate individuals’ schedules
  • $100/month attendance bonus
  • $100/month accident-free bonus

 For current MSD route drivers, the following incentives will be offered:

The district needs both daily route drivers, who will work in the mornings and the afternoons; as well as trip drivers, who will transport students on field trips, athletic contests, and similar events. With pay starting a little over $21/hour, Duncan said driving a bus could be an ideal opportunity for retirees looking to supplement their income, or anyone else who wants a part-time job. An added benefit for daily route drivers, he said, is that they will be eligible for health insurance through the district.

While being a bus driver does require a CDL license, Duncan said it’s something that most anyone is capable of doing. He said the district will provide tours, by appointment, for anyone interested to come tour the buses, sit in the driver’s seat, and drive around an empty parking lot. Tours can be arranged by contacting MSD Transportation Director Kenny Phillips at 870-739-5190.

“A lot of people seem to think that driving a bus is a lot more difficult than it really is,” Duncan said. “The truth is that it’s something that almost anyone can do, with a little bit of training. Among the bus drivers on our team right now, we have folks of all ages, men and women alike.”

Some of the drivers already driving a bus for the district had glowing words about the experience.

“My favorite part of the job is probably when I'm walking through a store, or I'm at a restaurant, and a child runs up and hugs me,” said MSD bus driver Darryn Richardson. “My wife used to be shocked -- now she just says, ‘Must be one of your kids!’ It’s fun to see the kids grow and mature over the years, kind of like watching my own children. I’ve worked in public service all my life – I’m a veteran and retired police officer. It’s especially enjoyable when you can make a difference in a child’s life because you took the time to actually listen and show you care.”

For fellow bus driver Melvin Brown, the sentiment is similar. 

“My favorite part is just seeing the kids each morning,” said Brown. “For example, I drive one of the buses for disabled kids. One of my students used to give her mom a kiss each morning. Now, the mom has to chase her down to get a kiss before she gets on the bus. She has become very comfortable with us! I enjoy the smiles on their faces, especially when we have some rough patches on our lovely streets in Marion. They just love it. I now look forward to the bumps on the streets!”

For more information about becoming a bus driver in the Marion School District, or to schedule a time to tour a school bus, contact Phillips at 870-739-5190.