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Metro Schools give bus drivers bonus on upcoming paycheck

Every bus driver in Metro Schools will receive a one-time $300 bonus on their Oct. 23 paycheck. The bonus is recognition for the willingness to carry the extra work caused by understaffing and is intended to serve as a signal to all drivers that serious efforts are underway to reform bus driver compensation.

While drivers get paid for all hours worked and overtime compensation for anything more than 40 hours per week, they have taken on an extraordinary workload in recent weeks due to the unusually high attrition seen this school year. There are currently more than 143 open bus driver positions in the district, and working drivers have taken on extra routes and longer hours as a result.

“Nationally, there is a shortage of commercial truck and bus drivers, so we’re talking about high-demand professionals with job opportunities outside of this school district,” said Fred Carr, Metro Schools’ chief operating officer. “With signing bonuses and higher wages available at private companies, we haven’t kept up with the competition as we should have. That’s our misstep, and it’s one we intend to correct.”

In looking for ways to reform bus driver compensation, district leadership is exploring a number of possible options:

  • Higher hourly wages
  • A compressed salary schedule so drivers earn more money more quickly
  • Higher starting salaries for experienced drivers
  • Incentive bonuses for attendance and safe driving

“All options are on the table at this point,” said Carr. “But we have to make changes strategically so they are sustainable and make the impact we need on retention and recruitment. Quick fixes are not going to solve our problems. We need well-thought out solutions that can keep our drivers here and bring in new ones this year and in the years to come.”

To develop these solutions, a group of central office employees from across departments, including bus drivers, is coming together to study long-term changes to compensation and other department systems that will result in lower attrition and stronger recruiting. As part of this study, driver focus groups are currently underway, as well as exit interviews with those who have resigned.

“Bus drivers are some of the most important employees in the entire district,” said Carr. “They are the first to see our students in the morning and the last to say goodbye in the afternoon. We cannot run this district without them, and we will do what it takes to keep them here. First and foremost, that means listening to their needs and resolving the issues they bring to us. There are plenty of opportunities for them out there, but we want every driver to make a conscious choice to stay with Metro Schools and continue their vital service to our students.” 

A hard copy of this letter was given to every bus driver today, October 15. View the letter below or by clicking here.

[slideshare id=53988336&doc=mnpslettertobusdrivers-151015182953-lva1-app6891&type=d]

If you or someone you know is interested in applying for open bus driver positions, click here.