Edgecombe school bus drivers see pay raise
BY AMELIA HARPER
Saturday, November 18, 2017
Edgecombe County School bus drivers are getting a raise this year, courtesy of the N.C. General Assembly and Edgecombe County Public Schools.
The funding for the raise will come from a $16.9 million appropriation passed by the N.C. General Assembly as part of the 2017-18 budget. Edgecombe County’s portion of that distribution, which was based on the size of school districts, was $72,409. However, the decision as to how to disperse the money was left up to individual school districts.
“I don’t remember when the Central Office has ever been able to present us a raise like this for the school bus drivers, and I am thrilled with this,” school board chairwoman Evelyn Wilson said. “They are up early every morning serving our students.”
Marc Whichard, associate superintendent, announced the distribution of the pay raise on Thursday at the November school board meeting. It was approved unanimously by the board. Whichard said a “fair and equitable” salary schedule for bus drivers was developed as the result of a collaborative effort of the school district’s transportation director, finance department and human resources.
“This funding was in lieu of the $1,000 salary increase for state employees,” Whichard said. “Had the bus drivers received the state raise of $1,000, this amount would have equaled a raise of 48 cents per hour. With the approval of the board of education, the smallest raise our bus drivers will get will equal 60 cents an hour, with $1.95 per hour being the largest increase.”
According to the new salary schedule for Edgecombe County bus drivers, which is retroactive to the beginning of the 2017-18 academic year, a bus driver with no experience will start at $11.83 an hour, up from $10.95 per hour last year. School bus drivers with 25 or more years of experience will earn $16.30 an hour, up from $14.85 last year. A school bus driver with 11 years of experience will earn $14.88, up from $13.74 last year.
David Coker, director of maintenance and transportation, said the school district employs roughly 206 part-time bus drivers to operate 84 buses. Some school bus drivers only work mornings, while others work evenings. Most work about two or three hours a day, but those who average more than four hours day can qualify for some partial benefits.
Coker said he hoped the new pay schedule will encourage more people to apply to work as school bus drivers.
“We can almost always use more drivers,” Coker said.
Edgecombe County Public Schools requires all teacher assistants, food workers and custodians to carry a license to drive a bus in case of shortages and emergencies.