Bus driver shortage improves for county schools

Xavier Smith • Dec 5, 2017 at 4:32 PM

The Wilson County Schools bus driver shortage situation has drastically improved, according to Jerry Partlow, Wilson County Schools transportation director.

Partlow told the Wilson County Board of Education on Monday all routes were covered throughout the district, which comes about two months after the district approved a $3 hourly pay raise for district drivers.

The $3 pay raise for drivers totaled $708,801 and represented an average of 17.6 percent average pay increase for drivers. Wilson County Deputy Director of Schools Mickey Hall said the starting pay for bus drivers would increase to $17.

“We have actually added routes. We used to have three routes in Spence Creek. We now have six and they are functioning. We added a route to Lebanon High School. We added a [special education] route at Springdale [Elementary School],” Partlow said.

The district has 439 route assignments each day, which include regular morning and afternoon routes, special needs morning and afternoon routes and midday routes.

Partlow said he also had substitute drivers dedicated to Carroll Oakland and Tuckers Crossroads schools and Lebanon High School. He also said the department has six drivers in training.

“It is starting to come together. Thank goodness,” said Partlow, who gave credit to the Wilson County school board and Wilson County Schools human resources department for the turnaround.

Partlow also credited the district’s new app for bus drivers and administrators to handle discipline issues. The app allows bus drivers to file incident reports from their phones, which will be sent to the respective school’s principal and Partlow.

The Wilson County school board received input from district bus drivers earlier this year about causes and solutions for the shortage. Issues raised included a lack of respect from students and parents, inconsistency in handling reports of incidents, the split-shift format that drivers adhere to and driver pay.

In August, the district introduced changes in hopes to attract new drivers to the district, which included offering morning- and afternoon-only shifts for new drivers.

The school board also approved a $5 per hour increase in June for field trip and athletic event bus drivers to make their payment closer to their regular pay, which averages $16 per hour.

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