Durham school board to vote on pay raise for bus drivers

Durham County News

DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) – The school board in Durham will vote Thursday on whether to increase pay for its bus drivers. It’s in response to a nationwide commercial driver’s license shortage, making it hard for schools to recruit drivers.

The proposed pay scale would raise the minimum wage for Durham bus drivers from $16.25 per hour to $17. The district said it would offer $24 per hour for people with 30 years of experience or more.

Some transportation directors here in the Triangle said they’ve lost drivers to companies like Amazon and UPS. Durham’s executive director of transportation, Mathew Palmer, said it’s also an issue his department has run into.

“That is a part of it. There’s also, admittedly, a lot of competition right now within the school bus industry,” Palmer said.

Additionally, district leaders said they’re reallocating money from some of their open positions to pay for the raises so taxpayers won’t have to foot the bill.

These jobs are full-time and the district is offering $2,000 signing bonuses and $1,000 for employees who recommend a new hire. 

Other districts, such as Chapel Hill-Carrboro, also voted on pay increases earlier in the year, proving it’s a competitive market. Durham said it wouldn’t rule out another raise in the future.

“That was one of the points that we heard from our bus drivers,” Palmer said. “That they wanted to be able to do this, and to do it well, and to dedicate three hours a week and so we’re able to provide.”

The school board meets tonight at 6:30 p.m. to vote on this proposal. 

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