School bus drivers get pay raise

Published 9:32 am Thursday, October 5, 2017

They are the first ones to greet many students in the morning and the last to see them in the afternoons.

They are up before dawn and spend hours ensuring more than 4,000 Davie students are safely transported to school and after school destinations.

For the first time in his career, Superintendent Darrin Hartness was able to tell a school board money was available to increase bus driver pay.

“This is the first time in my career I can ever remember the legislature providing an allotment specifically to increase bus driver pay. This allotment is most appreciated and will provide a well-deserved increase for our drivers,” he said.

The school board unanimously voted at their Sept. 12 meeting to use funds provided in the new state budget to increase bus driver pay. After required deductions of taxes and retirement, the amount remaining to be used for the increases is $46,062. Beginner bus drivers made $10.95 per hour in 2016-17, and the increase to $12 an hour is retroactive to July 1.

The average pay for a bus driver was $13.77 per hour; all drivers will receive an increase of at least $1 per hour.

Bus drivers don’t just spend hours in the seat but also work on their own and with transportation staff to maintain their buses.

The state requires certified inspectors on the local transportation staff to inspect school and activity buses every 30 days. There are five certified inspectors on the Davie transportation staff, and they perform a mandatory 44-item check list related to the safe operation of each bus, followed by a road test of the vehicle.

Each year, a transportation consultant from the state Department of Public Instruction visits unannounced to inspect 10 percent of the fleet, according to Transportation Director Todd Naylor. Defects are assigned point values, with minor issues receiving a lower point value than more serious defects. For at least the seventh time, Davie was awarded the best inspection score in August for the central region of the state.

They also had the lowest score in the state, 7.14, compared to the state average of 37.03. It is the second time they have had the lowest score in the state since the inspection process began in the late 1990s.

“We are consistently in the top percentile of scores annually, and we are proud of our safety reputation in the state,” Naylor said. “I am proud of our transportation staff and bus drivers for their hard work and dedication to safety. Bus drivers have a difficult job monitoring student behavior on the bus while also navigating traffic safety. Our transportation staff and service personnel are constantly working to ensure our buses are safe and maintained properly.”

Hartness said there is always a need for “great drivers to be part of our team. Driving a bus is a tremendous responsibility, but extremely rewarding for those who want to be part of educating our future.”

Currently there are 69 buses that travel over 3,800 miles per day on the roads across the county. Anyone interested in driving a school bus should contact any of the schools or the transportation department, 336-751-2627.