COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - The Muscogee County School Board has approved the superintendent’s proposal to address the district’s bus driver shortage.
Drivers will now receive referral bonuses, safe driving incentives, and uniforms. The district will also hire 12 additional bus monitors.
The change is in an effort to resolve widespread problems that plagued the district at the beginning of the school year.
All board members except Frank Myers (D-8) and John Thomas (D-2) voted in favor of the plan. Myers and Thomas proposed a plan last month that increased drivers base pay, but it was voted down.
“The issue is pay and we are not addressing that,” said Myers before announcing that he would not support the proposal. Bus drivers in attendance addressed the board echoing Myers' statements.
“It is a dollar amount per hour, not a bonus. That is not going to attract drivers to come in.” said veteran driver Russell Chambers. “All it does is give them the opportunity to hold on to money and allocate it the way they want to.”
At last week’s work session, many board members discussed their hesitancy to increase pay and create a compression problem, or budgetary shortfalls in years ahead.
“We can not commit or propose a hard stop amount for future years, we cant do that.” said Patricia Hugley-Green (D-1) at last weeks work session.
While a pay increase for drivers will not happen now, there is a possibility that the topic will be readdressed in the future.
“I would like to see as far as an increase for our hourly bus drivers, a comprehensive look for our next fiscal year, which is 2020.” said board member Laurie McRae (D-5). “I would like to look at it in areas that we have other shortages”
According to figures released by the school district, the driver shortage is at a three-year low with only five drivers vacancies.