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December 21, 2017

School board approves bus driver pay increases

The new scale will pay Fauquier bus drivers $16.50 to $25.36 an hour.
We did a survey of drivers about what they see . . . . The overwhelming response was, ‘We need more money.’ This will be a tremendous boost about when we rank in the region.
— Superintendent David Jeck
Paid some of the region’s lowest wages, Fauquier’s 145 school bus drivers will get raises in January.

The school board Wednesday voted, 5-0, to approve a plan that will raise pay as much as 18 percent.

Beginning drivers will get the biggest percent increase, jumping to $16.50 an hour from the previous starting pay of $13.98.

Other drivers will get raises from 3 to 8 percent, according to administrators.

The board of supervisors last week appropriated $80,000 to help address what school Superintendent David Jeck called “a crisis” in attracting and retaining drivers. The school system will allocate an equal amount to driver salaries for the balance of fiscal 2018, which runs through June.

The higher pay will add $380,000 a year to school expenses, starting in July.

Fauquier’s starting pay for drivers ranked below that in the region’s richest county, Loudoun at $19.32, and poorest, Page at $17.05.

“We’re now down 18 drivers,” Dr. Jeck told the school board.

“This is huge for us,” he added. “We did a survey of drivers about what they see . . . . The overwhelming response was, ‘We need more money.’ This will be a tremendous boost about where we rank in the region.”

Under the new scale, mid-range drivers in Fauquier will average $20.96 an hour, up more than $3. The most experienced drivers will earn $25.36 an hour, up almost $4.

Still Fauquier will rank behind Alexandria, Arlington, Fairfax, Falls Church, Loudoun, Manassas, Manassas Park, Page and Prince William in starting pay for school bus drivers.

Fauquier’s starting pay will exceed that in Albemarle, Culpeper, Frederick, Orange, Spotsylvania, Stafford, Warren and Winchester.

Loudoun County offers the region’s best bus driver pay, starting at $19.32 an hour and peaking at $36.60.

The City of Winchester pays the lowest wage for starting drivers, $12.84 an hour. Orange County offers the lowest maximum pay, $20.55.

“I’m in agreement with what we’re trying to do moneywise,” school board member Donald Mason (Lee District) said before Wednesday morning’s vote. “But, we still need to do something to support drivers in terms of student discipline.”

School bus driver aides and transportation assistants also will earn more under the plan.
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