Justin Murphy

Rochester Democrat and Chronicle USA TODAY NETWORK

The Rochester City School District announced Monday a $2,500 retention and recruitment incentive for bus drivers, plus another $500 for drivers with near-perfect attendance.

Some RCSD students had to start school remotely for the first few weeks of the school year because the district could not find enough people to drive buses.

The situation has stabilized since then, but the district still would like to hire about 50 bus drivers, RCSD Chief of Human Capital Christopher Miller said.

The news comes more than two months after board members suggested financial incentives for bus drivers. Some of the district’s contractors already offer their own incentive packages for new hires.

The RCSD incentive package required negotiation with the non-educators’ union, BENTE.

New hires, as well as current district employees with a commercial driver’s license, are eligible to receive $1,250 immediately and then $1,250 in one year.

They can also earn $250 in the fall and spring semesters if they miss fewer than three days of work, for a total potential package of $3,000.

People already driving school buses for other districts will not be eligible; the school bus driver shortage is national in nature, and Miller said RCSD does not want to poach from other schools.

The district has earmarked $350,000 from its transportation budget for the incentives, Miller said.

And…there’s a recruitment bonus The district also announced that current employees who recruit someone to an open position in one of multiple key areas will receive a $100 bonus.

Those positions include bus drivers, security officers, food service and clerical workers, paraprofessionals and teacher assistants.

The new hires must stay for six months for the referrer to get the bonus.

The district has budgeted for 200 referral incentives, or $20,000.

Miller said some district employees already have been generating a steady stream of applicants for high-need positions.

The security officer shortage has been blamed in part for the violence in some city secondary schools. The school board last week approved spending $166,000 for private security outside of buildings for the next seven weeks.

“These positions are vital to the operations of the District,” Superintendent Lesli Myers-Small said in a statement.

“We hope to attract more individuals who can join an exceptional workforce dedicated to the well-being of students and families.”

Contact staff writer Justin Murphy at jmurphy7@gannett.com.