(WEAR) —School bus drivers in Escambia County are getting a raise.
"We are growing as a county, we have more students that have to ride buses, a lot of parents don't want to be in that student pick-up line and put students on our buses," said Safety and Training Manager Kate Lewis.
Lewis said the district is bumping up the pay by $0.64 cents more an hour, from $11.52 to $12.16.
Every parent and grandparent Channel 3 News spoke to said it's well deserved.
"They have to make sure they get them to and from school safely and protect them on the buses," said grandparent Cassandra James.
"They're transporting our children, our grandchildren, making sure they're safe. Yes, I think that is very important," said Jack Coursey.
Right now, Escambia County is short eight drivers. Lewis is looking to fill those spots and hire substitutes before the start of the school year in August.
"They are really important and we need them here," Lewis said.
Lewis says they'll pay for you to go through the training and you'll only have spend about $70 out of pocket to start the career. The training, which includes classes and driving practice with a trainer, typically takes about two to three weeks to complete. Lewis says they'll take as long as you need.
"We will then test you, once you go to the DMV and obtain your license, you're ready to go on a school bus," said Lewis.
Escambia County isn't the only district looking for school bus drivers. Santa Rosa County is four bus drivers short. Superintendent Tim Wryosdick says they pay $12.75 an hour for beginner drivers. He says they're looking to hire as many as 20 drivers before the school year.
Escambia County hopes that increasing drivers' pay will help recruit and retain drivers.
"If you love children and are concerned about their safety please come see us," said Lewis.
Channel 3 has reached out to the Okaloosa County school board to see what their need is for the upcoming school year; however, we are waiting to hear back.