The increase will help the district combat a shortage of bus drivers
By Toni Konz Tatman | JCPS Communications
Jefferson County Public Schools (JCPS) will boost the starting pay for bus drivers from $16.95 to $20.65 an hour in an effort to attract new drivers.
All new drivers will earn the new hourly rate, which will be reviewed periodically for market comparability, according to the plan that was approved by the school board on Jan. 9.
In addition, approximately 320 current bus drivers who make less than $20.65 an hour will also get the boost in pay—a move that will cost approximately $770,000 and come out of the district's general fund.
Mike Raisor, the district's chief operations officer, says the move is needed to address the current shortage of drivers and compete with other local transportation companies that offer a higher hourly rate.
JCPS is currently short about 180 drivers—the largest deficit the district has ever seen, he said.
"We must realize that in a logistics city, such as Louisville, we are not competing against other school districts for our drivers," he said. "We are competing with industry, and we have to behave as such."
Other local transportation companies, such as Republic National, Green Logistics, and M&M Cartage all pay higher than $16.95 an hour, said Randy Frantz, the district's transportation director.
"We want to retain the current new drivers that we have so that they don't seek greener pastures with a competitor," Raisor said.
Cordelia Hardin, the district's chief financial officer, said new drivers will be placed at a Step 5 on the board's approved salary schedule, which is the equivalent of having five years of experience.
"If we get enough drivers, we may revisit the starting pay, but anyone hired at the new rate would continue to make that amount," she said. "No one would have that taken away."
JCPS will also continue to offer incentive pay to bus drivers and special-needs transportation assistants who have perfect attendance, Frantz said.
Under that policy, those employees who report to work every day for their normal scheduled route during the two week pay period receive differential pay rate of $2.50 per hour for each hour worked in the pay period, in addition to the employee’s regular hourly rate. The differential pay rate is only paid if the employee worked all scheduled hours and used no leave time in the pay period.
"We have to be innovative in order to compete," Frantz said. "We have done a lot over the past few years to recruit drivers, and we have to continue to do that in order to keep them."
Two years ago, the district began paying for new drivers' CDL training—reimbursing them the $75 cost—as well as give them a $150 bonus after they work 90 days.
JCPS will continue to hold job fairs and advertise to recruit new drivers, Frantz said.
In addition, the district recently launched a "Drive the Future" campaign on social media and on billboards across Louisville.
The district's next transportation job fair will be from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 17, at the C. B. Young Jr. Service Center, 3001 Crittenden Drive.
"With the job fair on Jan. 17, we are excited about attracting and retaining more community heroes," Frantz said.