Nashville Metro Schools is offering a bonus to keep more bus drivers from leaving to stop what the district calls “unusually high attrition.”
Drivers have been lured away by higher hourly pay and signing bonuses in the thousands of dollars at trucking companies and private bus lines. District officials acknowledge they have not remained competitive with private companies. Officials say that is their “misstep” — one they intend to correct, though not necessarily with a straight raise in hourly pay, which currently ranges from $13/hr to nearly $20/hr.
Spokesman Joe Bass says there may be better ways, like allowing drivers to get step-raises more quickly and offering additional bonuses for performance.
“Driver attendance is the biggest driver of late buses,” Bass said. “So bonuses for attendance is something that’s very interesting to me and the drivers as well, because most of them show up every day and on time.”
For now, all that is set in stone is that current drivers will get an extra $300 in their next paycheck. According to a press release from Metro Schools, the bonus is “recognition for the willingness to carry the extra work caused by understaffing and is intended to serve as a signal to all drivers that serious efforts are underway to reform bus driver compensation.”
It may not be as much a retention bonus, as a way to say thank you for the last several months: During the shortage many drivers have been running extra routes, and even then, many students are arriving late to school.