How do you discourage driver absenteeism and tardiness?

Posted on August 1, 2001

That's the question we posed recently in the Forum on SBF's Website at Here are some of the responses: Driver satisfaction is key
Absenteeism is a chronic problem in school districts. The key factor I believe is the satisfaction level of the driver, and the driver's commitment to his job. Let's be frank, any person working anywhere who is unsatisfied with his employer will have attendance and punctuality problems. It's not unique to the pupil transportation industry, although it has a disastrous impact. Another issue is drivers must understand that when they don't come to work, children ultimately are the ones hurt. It is the child that waits for late buses, arrives late at school and misses breakfast programs, contributing to poor classroom performance. The problem can be alleviated through sound management technique, respectable pay, involvement of drivers, respect and empowerment. Darnese Hines Nicholson
Transportation Manager
Kendall Demonstration Elementary School
Washington, D.C. Bonus money eases problem
Absenteeism is a problem everywhere in our industry. We give drivers a $.25 per hour bonus at the end of each month for every hour worked that month if they are not late reporting for work, do not miss any unexcused days and do not have a chargeable accident. Based on a 40-hour week (many work more than 40 hours), that's a significant monthly bonus. After drivers miss a day or come in late, they don't seem to do as well until the next month when they are eligible for the bonus money again. This seems to provide incentive for some. I don't know what happened to the incentive of personal pride and knowing you've done your best! Joe Reed
Assistant Director of Transportation
Palm Beach (Fla.) District Schools Promote driver pride and respect
Generally speaking, we do not have a tardiness or absenteeism problem. I attribute our success to the following: 1) Our employees are committed to their work. The large majority of our employees believes they make a difference in the lives of the children they transport. They know that absences detract from their personal success as well as our department's success. 2) The culture of our department is driven by CPR - Courtesy, Professionalism and Respect. There is a mutual understanding that the "Golden Rule" exists and must be observed. 3) Our staff is well treated by our Board of Education. They receive adequate wages, benefits and other forms of compensation. Additionally, extra work such as midday runs, field trips, subbing as teacher aides, subbing as kitchen help, etc., makes their employment more valuable to our staff. 4) We provide financial incentive for good attendance. Our employees receive a year-end bonus if they aren't absent more than 5.5 days during a 185-day school year. About 70 percent of our staff qualify for this bonus every year. Jonathan Ross
Director of Transportation
Southern Westchester BOCES
North White Plains, N.Y. Offer attendance incentives
Absences probably cause more safety problems than anything else. When you are forced to split up routes and have drivers doing different parts, it causes routine to be broken. That is always dangerous, especially for elementary students. You have to get the administration to think outside the box and offer incentive programs to lessen absences. J. Michael Lunsford
Director of Transportation
Loudoun County Public Schools
Leesburg, Va.

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