MOUNT GILEAD — In a special school board meeting Tuesday evening, the Mount Gilead School Board unanimously approved an increase in pay for full- time bus drivers at $25 per hour, up from $15.29 per hour.
They do not receive health insurance or added benefits.
Mount Gilead Schools Superintendent Jeff Thompson said the district is facing a shortage of bus drivers for the fall and are short two full-time drivers. They are also in need of substitute bus drivers.
The substitute bus driver rate was raised from $12.75 per hour to $14 per hour. It has been several years since there has been an increase in the substitute rate.
The district is seeking drivers with a CDL certificate. However, Thompson said that the transportation supervisor is qualified to train people interested in getting their CDL certification and they can be trained right there at the school.
Thompson said the Mount Gilead District has a single route district in which all ages of children are picked up at the same time. This means that “full-time” drivers for Mount Gilead run four hours per day five times a week for a total of 20 hours.
In comparing with other school districts in the area, they found that others were running two routes with high school students and elementary on separate routes.
An example Thompson gave of the highest pay was River Valley that pays $17.06 per hour and also gives benefits such as health insurance.
The board members and Thompson believe that offering this higher hourly rate with single bus routes is the most cost effective way to continue with the transportation.
School board member Brian Barnett said bus transportation is an essential service of the Mount Gilead School District.
The board members see that the single bus routes help families so that there can be one stop to include high school, middle school and younger children. This is very helpful for working parents. There are also less miles on the buses with a single route, which means less gas and repairs needed for buses.
There was quite a bit of discussion and questions from the board about these raises and how much they should be. In the end they decided that this was best to be able to recruit and retain qualified bus drivers for the district.
For more information about the CDL training for bus drivers, call the Mount Gilead School district office at 419-946-1646.