CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (WNCN) — The Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools Board of Education unanimously approved at a Tuesday meeting a new school bus driver rate of $20 an hour.

Current CHCCS drivers will either receive $20 an hour or a three-step increase, whichever is larger, in July, according to the school system.

The pay rate increase comes in response to continuous struggles to staff bus routes — something that has plagued school systems throughout the country since the beginning of the pandemic in 2020.

Superintendent Nyah Hamlett said the system aims to eliminate lost instructional time because of uncovered routes.

She also cited the need to alleviate the burden on staff.

This includes drivers having to cover additional routes and educators staying after hours beyond typical work hours.

The pay increase was one of three recommendations made by the Transportation Optimization Committee.

The other two called for bell schedule changes coupled with the consolidation of bus stops, and implementation of the transfer model for magnet school students.

The board also voted to direct the CHCCS administration to explore those other two recommendations.