Nashville district boosts school bus driver pay, hours

Thomas McMahon
Posted on December 30, 2015
Pay raises, a 40-hour work week and attendance bonuses are key factors in Metro Nashville Public Schools’ new plan to address school bus driver recruitment and retention.

Pay raises, a 40-hour work week and attendance bonuses are key factors in Metro Nashville Public Schools’ new plan to address school bus driver recruitment and retention.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — School bus drivers here will get pay raises, a 40-hour work week and attendance bonuses under a new plan to address driver recruitment and retention.

The move is meant to align Metro Nashville Public Schools’ driver compensation with local job market competition and to help fill a severe shortage of drivers that caused widespread service delays this fall.

“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 Fred Carr, chief operating officer for Metro Nashville Public Schools. “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.”

District officials unveiled the new driver pay structure earlier this month. The changes, which go into effect on Friday, cover three key areas: pay scale, work schedules and bonuses. Here are the details:

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. District officials said that nearly every current school bus driver will get a pay raise under the new scale.

• New drivers will get raises every six months for the first two years of employment, in an effort to keep them on the job longer.

• After the first two years, drivers will get raises for every year of employment.

Work schedules
• Through changes in scheduling, all drivers will be scheduled to work 40 hours or more per week.

• Drivers will be eligible for a bonus of $300 for every quarter in which they maintain perfect attendance. The bonus is retroactive to the fall 2015 semester.

District officials noted that driver absences are the biggest cause of late buses.

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

Metro Nashville Public Schools also gave its school bus drivers a one-time bonus of $300 in October to recognize the drivers’ extra work due to understaffing.

District officials said that other concerns raised by drivers recently, including student behavior and department morale, will also be addressed. Meanwhile, a recognition program will be developed to honor exemplary drivers.

“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,” Carr said. “We’re going to work closely with principals to make sure the expectations inside the school are honored on the bus as well.”

The district’s driver compensation changes are expected to cost around $2.6 million per year.

Related Topics: driver recruitment/retention, driver shortage, morale, Tennessee

Thomas McMahon Executive Editor
Comments ( 14 )
  • Catherine

     | about 4 years ago

    Take the audio and video and show it. You put someone on the bus ride the students will be angels.

  • See all comments
More Stories
NAPT Conference and Trade Show scholarship deadlines are almost here. Shown here is Michael Martin, NAPT's executive director, speaking at the 2018 conference in Kansas City, Mo.

NAPT Scholarship Deadlines Approaching

The National Association for Pupil Transportation Conference and Trade Show deadline for two related scholarships is Sept. 18. The Sol Englander Innovation in School Transportation Safety Scholarship deadline is Oct. 11.

Isabel Lane of Wisconsin held the hand of a frightened student on his first day of school. A photo of the gesture taken by his mother is widely shared on social media. Photo courtesy Amy Johnson

Bus Driver Comforts Student on First Day of School

Isabel Lane of Wisconsin reaches her hand out to a frightened student on his first day of school after he boards the bus. A photo of the gesture taken by his mother is widely shared on social media.

Francine Furby, the director of transportation for Fairfax County Public Schools, says that the district’s discipline-tracking system “fosters a partnership with the schools and strengthens their support of our drivers.” Photo courtesy Fairfax County Public Schools

Virginia District Bolsters Driver Support for Success

Fairfax County Public Schools backs its 1,325 drivers with a discipline-tracking system for better follow-up and puts driver supervisors on the road to assist as needed. Additionally, fleet upkeep is boosted with county-employed technicians.

Glenda Daughtry, who recently retired, had worked as a bus driver and teacher’s aide for Sampson County Schools in Clinton, N.C. Many districts in the state require certain staff members to obtain their CDL and drive buses when needed. Photo courtesy Vicki Westbrook

Helping School Bus Drivers Turn Downtime Into Uptime

Texas and North Carolina transportation departments fill the gap in drivers’ schedules with work opportunities beyond more routes, such as administrative, cleaning, and technical tasks, and tap other staff to ease driver shortage. Meanwhile, an Illinois contractor offers space for socializing and relaxation.

Be the First to Know

Get the latest news and most popular articles from SBF delivered straight to your inbox. Stay on top of the school bus industry and don't miss a thing!