NASHVILLE, Tenn. — School bus drivers at Metro Nashville Public Schools (MNPS) will see a bump in their paycheck on Friday, to the tune of $300.
District officials said that the one-time bonus recognizes the drivers' extra work — including additional routes and longer hours — which has been caused by understaffing. While the drivers get paid for all hours worked, as well as overtime pay after 40 hours per week, MNPS officials said in a press release that the drivers "have taken on an extraordinary workload in recent weeks."
The bonus is also intended to signal that the district is working to reform its school bus driver compensation.
As reported last week, MNPS officials said that an unusually high number of school bus driver resignations this year created close to 150 openings. The driver shortage was expected to cause delays in about 25% of the district's bus routes.
“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, chief operating officer for MNPS. “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.”
District leaders are reportedly considering a number of other options to reform driver pay, including:
• higher hourly wages;
• a compressed salary schedule, so drivers earn more money more quickly;
• higher starting salaries for experienced drivers; and
• incentive bonuses for attendance and safe driving.
“All options are on the table at this point,” Carr said. “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.”