Local News

School Board Approves Bus Driver Pay Increase

Posted October 8, 1997 12:00 a.m. EDT

— Wake County school bus drivers took kids to and from school Wednesday. They did it, even though they're not happy about what they're being paid. Last week, drivers fought the system by calling in sick. This week, it was a different kind of pressure.

A lot has changed since WRAL first told you about the bus driver's complaints almost two weeks ago. Wednesday afternoon, the school board unanimously approved a 9% raise for all Wake County bus drivers. The raise becomes effective November first, but the effect on bus drivers was immediate. School board members believe the issue has come full circle.

If coming full circle is making bus drivers happy after many walked off the job, then the school system has made a round trip. The school board just approved a raise in starting pay and an increase in maximum pay. Life is now better for new drivers and veteran drivers.

Driver Jerry Lovick says he is happy with the decision. He believes the increase is going to be good for all of the drivers.

Dozens of Wake County drivers refused to drive their routes when administrators proposed paying new drivers $10 an hour. The attempt at solving the driver shortage drove some to anger when veteran employees saw they could earn less than the rookies.

"Some drivers feel that had to happen in order for it to get as far as it has gotten," explains driver Donna Horton. "We're glad that it's where it's at now. We can go forward now. We're not going backwards. It's only going to get better from here."

In the end, 9% across the board raises got unanimous approval from the school board.

Wake County School Board member John Gilbert says the answer was simple. The system has to have more money and drivers have to have more money in order to keep the buses moving.

The part that's not so simple is how to pay for it. Administrators plan to cut back on general operating expenses and on utility costs. The three year pay increase package will cost more than $3 million dollars in state and local funding.

In terms of pay scale, beginning drivers will start around $8 an hour, while veteran drivers will earn over $11 an hour.