Lisbon schools have struggled to keep enough drivers on the road throughout the pandemic as nearby school districts court drivers to ease their own staffing challenges.

“We lost staff to other districts who were really recruiting,” said Lisbon Superintendent Richard Green.

Lisbon schools attempt to fill vacant transportation positions. Contributed by Lisbon schools’ website

This past summer, school districts recruited fiercely with large sign-on bonuses, with Scarborough offering $3,000, Gorham at $2,000 and Kennebunk $1,500. The most competitive recruiter was Portland, with a $3,000 hiring and retention bonus, as well as an additional $1,000 referral bonus.

Locally, Bath schools are offering a $1,500 sign-on bonus.

Many of those competing districts also pay better than Lisbon, and Green said the school will look to close that wage gap in the future. The current wage for bus drivers in Lisbon is $17.06-$21.11 per hour, while Gorham schools pay their drivers from $19.66-$23.81 per hour.

Green said he’s proud of his staff’s work, despite the challenges of the pandemic.


“I believe our staff did an amazing job throughout the last couple of years making sure that our kids were getting the services and support they needed to be successful,” he said

At least three bus drivers have resigned or retired in the past year, forcing the district to condense bus routes. That meant more students per bus and later drop off times. Around 900 students rely on the school bus for transportation.

Green said he is hopeful he will fill these vacant positions, saying, “people are returning to the workplace.”

Lisbon is actively filling positions for substitute teachers, substitute custodians and both full and part-time bus drivers. Since posting hiring ads on the school website, Lisbon has received a decent amount of interest.

“We were definitely short staffed, but it has improved significantly over the last few weeks,” said Green.

This story was updated at 3 p.m. Wednesday, March 23 to better identify the school districts that Lisbon bus drivers had left for. 

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