Valdosta Schools bump bus driver pay

Valdosta Schools bumps bus driver pay

VALDOSTA, Ga. (WALB) - The Valdosta City School System (VCS) is suffering from the same issue that nearly every other system in Georgia has: a shortage of school bus drivers.

On Friday, the system announced an aggressive plan to keep and attract drivers — a hefty pay increase. VCS is promoting a local supplement to increase pay from the state standard of $9,384, to $12,000 for the 2019-2020 school year.

VCS is also adding a local supplement based on years of experience.

  • Drivers with up to five years of experience will receive an additional $2,200.
  • Drivers with 6 - 12 years of experience will receive an additional $2,500.
  • Drivers with 13 or more years will receive an additional $3,000 per year.

That means the top paid drivers will earn $15,000 a year.

Transportation Director, Rick Thomas said this may help make life for their bus drives and their department a little bit easier.

“I think it will definitely assist with attracting more bus drivers, plus retaining the drivers that we have. It will be make my job significantly easier in that regard," said Thomas.

All full-time drivers work five hours a day, 25 hours a week, and are salaried employees who have the option to enroll in the VCS benefits program offering health, dental and eye insurance as well as retirement benefits.

Drivers will have the opportunity to earn additional pay by driving routes for extracurricular activities, field trips and athletics. For extra trips (field trips, clubs, athletics, etc.) drivers are paid $12.15 an hour. If it is an overnight trip, they are paid up to eight hours, and all accommodations and meals are covered, the system said Wednesday.

He says this may help make life for their bus drives and their department a little bit easier.

Rick Thomas, Transportation Director (:11): “I think it will definitely assist with attracting more bus drivers, plus retaining the drivers that we have. It will be make my job significantly easier in that regard.”

Valdosta City Schools has enough buses; they need drivers. (WALB image)
Valdosta City Schools has enough buses; they need drivers. (WALB image)

Training for anyone interested in obtaining their commercial driver’s license (CDL) is offered onsite and with no out-of-pocket expenses. The training begins with classroom education with a written exam, which will give the trainee their CDL permit upon satisfactory completion, followed by under-the-hood training, six hours of driving without students, and six hours of driving with students. After these have all been completed, the trainee will then undergo a road test. Upon successful completion of the road test, the official license will be issued. Most candidates can complete the entire process in four weeks.

Sub drivers are also needed and are offered $60 per day. All bus driver applicants are eligible for the free, onsite training.

Those who complete the training and obtain their CDL will immediately be recommended for employment with Valdosta City Schools.

VCS Transportation Department will host a job fair on Tuesday, July 9 from 1 to 4 p.m. at the transportation terminal located at 1720 Eastwind Road in Valdosta.

For more information, contact Rick Thomas, transportation director, at (229) 245-5640.

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