This is our plan to fix Metro Schools bus driver pay.

Today, Metro school bus drivers are learning of changes to their pay structure, including higher pay, a guaranteed 40-hour work week and the opportunity to earn bonuses, all of which are designed to keep drivers on the job for longer and attract new recruits in greater numbers. This new compensation plan was developed with careful planning and deliberation among district leadership and bus drivers to be competitive with the local job market for drivers. The changes will go into effect Jan. 1, 2016. “Driving a bus is a hard job, and we were overdue in assessing the compensation plan for our drivers, which has led to low morale and high turnover,” said Chief Operating Officer Fred Carr. “We’ve spent the last few months listening to drivers in official meetings and casual conversations. They gave us a lot of insight into what they need and what it will take to keep a strong corps of drivers. This plan was carefully designed to be competitive with other job opportunities available to commercial drivers while also being fiscally sustainable and responsible. Our students depend on our transportation system to get to school safely and on time each day, so we have taken this very seriously and believe we have a good solution.”

The plan calls for change in three major areas: pay scale, work schedules and bonuses:

  • Hourly Pay:
    • Starting pay will rise from $13.09 to $14.10 per hour, with all steps of the pay scale seeing an increase in base pay. Nearly every current bus driver will receive a pay raise under this new scale.
    • New drivers will receive pay raises every six months for the first two years of employment in an effort to keep their pay competitive as they gain experience and keep them on the job for longer.
    • After the first two years, drivers will receive a pay raise for every year of employment.
  • Work Schedules:
    • Through changes in scheduling, all drivers will be scheduled to work 40 hours or more per week.
  • Bonuses:
    • Drivers will be eligible for a bonus of $300 every quarter if they maintain perfect attendance during that time period. If a driver misses no days of work during the school year, he or she could earn $1,200 in bonuses annually. This bonus will be given retroactive to the fall 2015 semester, meaning some drivers will see bonuses appear on their December 18 paychecks. Jury duty and bereavement leave will not count against perfect attendance counts.

Read more details in this letter given to all bus drivers today.

Driver absences are the biggest cause of late buses in the mornings and afternoons.

“If we can improve attendance, families will see a direct benefit in their bus service,” Carr said.

Other concerns brought forward by drivers, including student behavior and department morale, will also be addressed.

“It’s never going to be easy to drive a bus full of 70 kids, and drivers told us they’d like more support at the school level in dealing with challenging behavior,” said Carr. “We’re going to work closely with principals to make sure the expectations inside the school are honored on the bus, as well.”

In addition, a driver recognition program will be developed to honor exemplary drivers and the work they do.

Changes in compensation are expected to cost around $2.6 million annually. Costs for this fiscal year are expected to be covered under the current operating budget without need for an amendment or extra revenue.