PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) — Twenty thousand students are expected to ride the bus in Pinellas County next week for the start of school. This means the district is going to need a lot of bus drivers.

Thirty full-time positions and 70 bus driver assistant roles need to be filled.

In an attempt to attract more drivers, the county is offering them more money.

Starting drivers will make almost $20 per hour and have the opportunity to make $1,500 in bonuses in the first year of their careers.

It’s part of what attracted Brian O’Reilly to apply.

“Started to talk to some of the drivers and I was made to feel at home, more like a family than an outsider,” O’Reilly said. “And here I am.”

Bus Driver Trainer Kevin Cobb said the pay increase has actually already attracted many drivers.

“We put approximately 30 people through training this summer so we had a pretty good increase during the summer,” Cobb said.

District officials also made several changes ahead of the year to address the shortage. They combined some routes, changing stops for magnets and choice schools.

They also adjusted start times for three schools. The schools impacted are Pinellas High Innovation School, Bay Point Middle School, and East Lake Middle. School attendees and parents will see significant changes. They are now starting class nearly two hours earlier than last year.

The bus driver shortage is an ongoing battle, but the Pinellas County School District is taking a lot of measures to try and accommodate everyone– most importantly, get everyone to school on time.

New hires like Janine Gauvin cannot wait to see all the kids on the first day of school.

“Just being with them, greeting them, talking with them listening you know whatever is needed,” Gauvin said.

Click here for more information on how to help fight the shortage and become a bus driver.