Company seeks bus drivers

July 4, 2018

About half of Kankakee’s school bus drivers are not staying with the school district’s new bus contractor, so the company is holding a recruitment campaign.

Throughout at least the next couple weeks, Illinois Central representatives will be on hand in a temporary office at the Holiday Inn next to Northfield Square mall. They also have posted fliers around town.

The company is recruiting both drivers and trainees who are 21 or older, with starting wages ranging from $15 to $18.50, depending on experience. The company offers a $1,000 new hire bonus and a driver child ride-a-long benefit.

“These are great jobs with no mandatory evenings, nights, weekends or holiday work,” Tim Stieber, Illinois Central’s regional operations manager, said in a news release. “We have driving positions available from four hours to nearly eight hours a school day.”

The company’s fleet will be entirely new, equipped with GPS and video cameras, said Katie Cooper, Kankakee’s contract manager.

“These new buses are easy to drive and we fully train anyone,” Cooper said in the release.

In an interview, Cooper said Illinois Central will have a total of 65 drivers in the Kankakee district.

“Once the economy starts doing better, it’s harder to recruit bus drivers,” she said in an interview.

Todd Stickel, president of the Kankakee school bus drivers union, couldn’t be reached for comment.

In March, the Kankakee School District 111 Board chose Illinois Central over First Student, the district’s existing bus contractor, even though First Student was the low bidder.

The district maintained First Student wasn’t efficient enough with routes, saying cutting the number of routes could save money.

School officials also clashed with First Student over disciplinary matters, accusing the company of refusing to hand over video to settle student disciplinary matters. The bus drivers union, however, defended First Student, saying the district had ignored their complaints about behavioral issues.

Illinois Central is a part of Joliet-based North American Central School Bus. According to its website, North American is the fourth largest school bus operator in the United States, serving students in Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Missouri, Kansas, Massachusetts and Idaho.

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