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Jefferson County School District hikes pay, offers bonuses amid bus driver shortage, other hiring struggles

Jefferson County School District 509-J

Also 'critical' staff shortage at Warm Springs K-8 Academy, $1,000 'site differential'

MADRAS, Ore. (KTVZ) -- The Jefferson County School District said Saturday it "continues to face a hardship in finding applicants for select classified positions," such as bus drivers, so it is boosting pay for some positions and offering a $500 retention bonus for new hires who stay for at least three months.

Bus drivers had a starting pay of $18.63 an hour, now increased to 21, district Communications Coordinator Joseph Prechtl said. Bus mechanics' starting wage of $22.75 an hour was increased to $24.56.

Here's the school district's announcement:

In response to better serve our students and their families, the district is increasing pay for some transportation positions. Those positions include Bus Driver, Bus Mechanic, Driver Trainer, Type 10/20 Driver, Transportation Coordinator, and Bus Aide. That increase in pay will take effect on November 1st.

In addition, the district is also offering for the first time a $500 retention bonus to any Bus Driver, Bus Mechanic, Type 10/20 Driver, Transportation Coordinator, Bus Aide, or SPED Educational Assistant that was hired between August 1st and December 1st following 90 days of employment with the district.

“We are facing a critical shortage of bus drivers. Our drivers are often the first employee students contact when coming to school and the last person they see at the end of the day. This increase in pay and retention bonus is an effort to honor our current employees and attract more applicants so that we can better take care of our most precious asset, our students,” Director of Operations and Safety Simon White said.

The school district is also facing a critical shortage of staff at the Warm Springs K-8 Academy. In order to attract more qualified applicants, the district is offering a site differential up to $1,000 for employees who are assigned to the school, excluding transportation positions.

There is also an opportunity for any Bus Driver, Bus Mechanic, Type 10/20 Driver, Driver Trainer or SPED Educational Assistant to receive a $250 bonus if they recruit someone for the position. The employee who did the recruiting will be eligible once the recruited employee has worked for the district for at least 90 days. This is a one-time bonus.

“I want to thank all of our faculty and staff for their ongoing efforts to ensure that 509J is a place where all students flourish each and every day. The work of our teams matters now more than ever,” Superintendent Jay Mathisen said. “However, we need more people in order to keep offering a high level of education to our kids and families. This is an effort to show we care for our classified staff and the work they do matters.”

509J also offers a robust benefits package for a majority of our positions. The package could include but is not limited to medical, dental, life, vision insurance, and long-term disability. The district also pays the employee’s share of the Public Employees Retirement System Contribution.

Interested applicants can apply on our website at

Article Topic Follows: Jefferson County

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