COLUMBIA, Mo. (KMIZ)
The Columbia Board of Education voted Monday to raise wages for school bus drivers after the administration asked them to a current contract agreement with the company that CPS contracts with to bus students to and from buildings.
According to the school district's website, drivers are currently starting at $16.25/per hour, but this raise will be by 8% meaning $2 more per hour will be given to full-time drivers.
The administration says the pay increase will help recruit and keep their current bus drivers, and that the pay increase is necessary because of the COVID-19 impacts on the job market.
School bus driver for STA, Gray Reboroin, says he doesn't think the extra money is the only answer. "At first I thought about coming in here and telling you vote in down and don't give them the money. I think it will help but its not really an issue," Reboroin said.
CPS parent Scott McFarland says the bus issues have affected him, but he said thankfully his job has been understanding. "Other parents are not as fortunate. I have a parent in my neighborhood that had to quit her job because they did not allow her to take any more time off and she needed to get her kid to school," McFarland said.
Board members say this isn't the only plan to fix the shortage. "There are other things that are being looked at including ways that routes are being combined, new drivers that are in the process, and additional communication with STA," said board member Jeanne Snodgrass.
Michelle Baumstark, spokeswoman for the district, said there are more than 10 drivers completing the hiring process as of Monday and should fully be on board by the end of October or sooner.
With STA having more than 200 buses that operate 400 bus routes, Baumstark said the district is down between 7 and 15 drivers daily.
The hiring process is also not instant. Drivers have to complete the legally required training, background checks, and more before they can start behind the wheel. Applications can be found on the STA website.
The board also decided Monday to keep the current COVID-19 plan in place.
This plan requires students to wear masks while on buses and indoors at schools. Also, current grades including K-5 will continue having stable groups and assigned seating in classrooms and the lunchroom.
Vaccinations are encouraging in the district for those who are 12-years-old and older.