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CCSD increases school bus driver pay to address shortage

Every workday long before dawn, Latrice McCallon and George Tundidor are out the door and headed to their jobs as Clark County School District bus drivers who shuttle special needs children to and from school.

It is certainly a rewarding endeavor, they said.

“The goal is to get the kids to school safely and get the kids home safely,” McCallon said. “That’s our main goal for everything we try to do.”

But with starting pay for district bus drivers hovering for many years around $15 an hour, the district has encountered a serious problem: they simply don’t have enough bus drivers to fill all the routes in the massive school district. Jennifer Vobis, the district’s executive director of transportation, said the district has been “in critical need of drivers” this school year with 250 driver and transportation vacancies in a Las Vegas Valley job market where $15 an hour is a non-starter for many prospective employees.

“It has been quite a challenge,” Vobis said. “Our rate of pay was not competitive within the job market. It has been a real challenge.”

This week, however, the district said it took a huge step forward on the issue and boosted the pay of starting bus drivers to a little more than $21 an hour while also giving current bus drivers a bump in pay. The district believes this additional money for drivers will help attract new drivers while keeping the skilled workers they already have.

“It is a big plus. A game changer big-time,” Tundidor said. “Why? Because now we can get qualified people to help out and do what we do.”

District Transportation Investigators Lawrence Turner and Carisa Hine said the need for higher pay and better retention has been especially acute this year.

“Everyone who is still with the transportation department, we are grateful,” said Turner. “We are thankful…it will boost the morale within the department and we can get drivers to stay a little bit longer.”

Danielle Mack-Hayward and Roger Paramo work as driving instructors for the district. They’ve seen new bus drivers learn the ropes of the job and obtain their commercial drivers licenses, then depart for better paying jobs as they arise.

“It is a blessing,” Paramo said. “Everybody makes a little bit more, especially given the times are a little financially difficult with everying going up (in price.) So now we are competing with other companies.”

Contact Glenn Puit by email at gpuit@reviewjournal.com. Follow @GlennatRJ on Twitter.

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