SUMMERVILLE, S.C. (WCSC) - As students prepare to return to class next week, Dorchester School District Two has created more financial incentives for the bus drivers who will safely take them back to campus.
District officials said there is about a 15% shortage of school bus drivers across South Carolina. To help cut into that number, the school board voted unanimously Monday to create several bonuses for the bus drivers and have already increased their pay compared to last year.
Board member Justin Farnsworth said the district is short by around two dozen bus drivers heading into the new school year. He said as part of this year’s budget, they have increased minimum bus driver pay by about $2 per hour, from around $16 per hour to just over $18 per hour.
A breakdown of the bonuses and stipends can be found below:
-New hires will now receive a $1,000 bonus.
-Bus drivers with perfect or near-perfect attendance will receive $250 a semester.
-Returning bus drivers will receive a $500 bonus for every year they stay with the district.
-Drivers who have to work two routes a day due to the shortage will also get a $200 bonus every month.
-Any district employee who recruits a successful bus driver is eligible for a $200 bonus.
-DD2 will reimburse drivers for the 20 hours of classroom instruction it takes to earn a Class B Commercial Driver’s License, while being paid at a training rate of $16.28 per hour.
-Bus drivers can also work as cafeteria monitors, custodial support and secretarial support to supplement their routes.
“Hiring is a challenge across a lot of different industries, and that’s no different than what we see in our transportation department,” Farnsworth said. “We’re really working to attract and retain the best bus drivers, the best transportation folks, that we can.”
Farnsworth said the incentives will cost the district around $200,000 this year.
Students in Dorchester County will return to class on Monday.
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