PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – Although school bus driver shortages remain in the Portland metro area for the second year in a row, school district leaders say hiring efforts are improving.

This year, many districts are offering more money and better healthcare benefits — bringing in more drivers. For example, there are now just 15 openings for bus drivers in Beaverton compared to 40 openings in 2021.

Portland and Beaverton school districts tell KOIN 6 News they do not plan to cancel routes or even have to pay parents to transport kids like Portland last school year.

Drivers in these largest local districts are still being hired with pay ranging from $23 to $31 an hour. The pay differs depending on the district, with varying benefit packages as well. 

Portland said some of its routes will be extended until they get a few more drivers.

The Beaverton School District is also piloting a program on four elementary school routes to use an electronic tracking system for kids. Parents will also be able to get an app that will track their children.

“There’s a lot of concern about student safety out there, especially as a parent, you worry sometimes about ‘did my kid make it home?’ Especially if there’s no parent at home when the student is supposed to get home,” said Joel Feldhan of the Beaverton Schools Transportation Department. “This way, you can know. You can know that your kid got to their bus stop. You can know that your kid actually went to school — that’s a concern.”

School bus drivers will get training if hired and do not need to have commercial driving experience.