RPS seeks more bus drivers ahead of new school year

ROCKFORD, Il (WIFR)--- The first day of school is a few weeks away, but the Rockford Public Schools needs to fill crucial positions, bus drivers.

Candi War is an 18-year veteran bus driver for RPS.

"Got to see some of the little ones go to kindergarten and now when I do the routes they're either in high school or graduated high school going to college, so it's pretty neat," says Ward.

Now, she's a trainer with a different set of students and loves seeing the levels of growth in her classrooms.

To become a school bus driver, employees must follow strict training guidelines. Undergoing multiple trainings and tests, the entire process can take over a month. The tedious process isn't for everyone, trainees often dropout and leave gaping holes on the schedule.

"We ran all of last year with about 40 short of our drivers so we had mechanics driving, we had prep people driving, supervisors driving, I drove," says transportation director Michael Slife.

Usually one of two things drives employees away.

"I hear there's no way I can work with that many children, or a lot of people will say, I can't drive anything that big," says Slife.

Ward says being able to interact with kids is not only the biggest requirement, but also the job's biggest reward.

"I think is the highlight of the day," says Ward.

Although Slife says the district is doing pretty good this hiring season, there is always a need for RPS bus drivers.