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Springdale Public Schools approve raises for bus drivers

First year drivers previously could make over $13,000 annually. Now, they can make $17,000. Depending on experience, drivers can reach a salary of up to $24,000.

SPRINGDALE, Ark. — Springdale Public Schools met for the September board meeting to approve raises for bus drivers.

The school district had to cancel bus routes last school year, leaving some students without transportation. Director of communications for the district, Trent Jones, explained that the issue is nationwide and not unique to Springdale.

"It's always been an issue through COVID. What happened was it exacerbated the issue," said Jones. "It made the issue even more prominent in every community across the nation. And so it did lead to us not having enough of enough drivers."

 At the beginning of the 2022 school year, the district announced new fixed routes. While some parents were unhappy with the routes, Jones says the district worked with families in a community effort.

"Up to this point, we haven't canceled routes. And that's critical. That's a critical service for our community," said Jones. "I do think it's important also, to note that when we rolled out the new routes, we did discover that there were some that need to be improved, and we improved it."

Now the district is taking further action to address the driver shortage. The board unanimously approved pay raises for bus drivers in the district.

"one of the things that we wanted to do was help our bus drivers understand how valuable they are," said Jones. "We have increased their pay. We have increased their steps and steps are when you're here for from one year to the next year, pay automatically goes up. So they're automatic raises their step raises."

Previously, first-year drivers made just more than $13,000 dollars annually. Now, they'll make more than $17,000 annually. Depending on experience, drivers can reach a salary of up to $24,000.

"Remember, a bus driver is the first face you see and the last face you see," said Jones. "They really set the tone for our community, and they set the tone for our district."

Pandemic school emergency relief funding will help cover the pay raises for bus drivers. Anyone interested in driving a bus can apply on the school district's website.

RELATED: Springdale superintendent awarded Arkansas Superintendent of the Year

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