(WSIL) -- While parents and teachers are busy with back-to-school supplies, there's another need to fill before students return to the classroom.
Illinois Central School Bus is hiring drivers for routes in Johnston City, Marion and West Frankfort.
Many drivers retired early last year due to the pandemic, leaving the company shorthanded for the start of the fall semester and they're hoping to hire at least 10 additional employees.
One person who is passionate about the job is Ken Sharp, who's been a driver for 12 years and also works as a recruiter. He says starting pay is $15 to $18.50 and hour and training is included.
"Roughly nine hours of classroom time," he explains. "20 plus hours actually on the bus doing driving and such, learning the different things to get their CDL, the pre-trip process and other things along the way."
Another incentive is a sign on bonus including $500 for new employees without experience, and $1,000 for those who have spent time behind the wheel as a bus driver before.
While the job is part-time, there are opportunities for overtime with field trips, sporting events and other extracurricular activities.
"One of the most interesting things for me is taking the robotics team," Sharp remembers. "The first time that I took them, I had no idea what robotics was. Watching them do their thing with the robots was very, very interesting."
He adds other aspects about the job are priceless like getting to know the precious cargo who make the routes with him.
"We're the first person they see when they leave their home in the morning, and we're the last one they see before they go home in the afternoon," Sharp says. "People don't realize the impact that you make on a student's life but anything we can do to make it a positive experience for them, to help them to be in a good mind set to go to school and learn, it's all worth it."
For those interested, a training session starts July 26 so you're encouraged to apply as soon as possible.
You can click here and find the city that you want to work in, and fill out the application. Many of the signs throughout the region advertising the positions also have a QR code that you can scan with your smartphone and it will take you to the website as well.
Once you fill out an application be sure to call (618) 993 -9170 to follow up.