COPPERAS COVE, Texas (FOX 44) – As many school districts are facing bus driver shortages, Copperas Cove ISD is fully staffed, including five additional reserve drivers.

In 2021, Copperas Cove ISD raised the starting pay from $14 dollars an hour to $18 dollars an hour in order to attract bus driver applicants.

Eric West, the Director of Transportation Services says it’s going to be helpful not having to pull mechanics or staff to drive a bus every day, so they can instead be there to support the drivers.

“We value the culture that we want to build here. We have monthly meetings where we give out an employee of the month and we also do an employee of the year. We provide parking prizes for bus drivers to show that we actually care and that they’re actually making an effort to make a positive impact on the student’s lives,” said West.

Kai is the shop foreman at transportation services. He was awarded employee of the year for the transportation department. One of his jobs is to make sure the buses are up to standard.

“Making sure, for the kids, that everything is safe is also for the drivers and employees using the vehicles and equipment that we service to maintain,” says kai.

Although, he believes there is one aspect of his job that can’t easily be taught.

“It’s lot of its patience, with a lot of different personalities on the school bus. Some tend to be very vocal and very out there. Some are quiet. It’s something we’ve got to kind of recognize, you know, how to approach. It’s kind of a balancing game as far as what kids or what you’re dealing with. So you got to have a good mindset and temperament,” he says.

He noted that providing a positive impact means having passion for your work, and that getting the job done requires unique motives.

“It’s not money based pretty much. It’s just I don’t know. Like I said, I just I like, I like my job and it keeps me busy. Very busy,” says Kai.