By Sydney Spencer

During Fayette County’s Board of Education meeting on July 18, the board addressed needing bus drivers for schools, summer school and the Stagecoach Road project.

The Superintendent of Fayette County, Dr. Jonathan Patterson, reported on the shortage of bus drivers. The county is quickly looking to fill the vacant positions with qualified candidates.

“We’ve been working with Steve Green to get and motivate more candidates to go into bus driving,” said Patterson. “This is a priority here and we’re looking to address areas specifically towards bus drivers. We have 12 routes that we are short of before we even start school and we have to get kids to school,” added Patterson.

Another tactic stated to lure drivers in was an increase in the stipend amount given for completing the course. The Superintendent believed the change in funds would give another sense of motivation to finish necessary training and proved the increase was within the budget of the county.

“It’s in three steps. The first area is the bus driver training stipend. For those folks who want to go into bus driving, they have to earn a CDL,” said Patterson. “That requires roughly 30 hours of classroom instruction, plus 12 hours of driving instructions plus tests. Historically, we have given each person a $200 dollar stipend once they have committed to compensate for the 42 hours of work. That seems a little low, so we’re going to increase that to $800 dollars for anyone who is currently in the class and anyone in the future to motivate folks to finish the class. This will be paid 20 days after the employment,” added Patterson.

The second and third steps were explained to be a 90-day retention supplement for current and new drivers and drivers with perfect attendance.

“If you are a current driver, we are going to give you a $500 supplement after the first couple weeks of school,” said Patterson. “We’re going to put that into the August check. For drivers that are new to us who finish the class next week, after 90 days of employment we’re going to give them an additional $500 dollars to retain them. Last but not least is the perfect attendance supplement of 250 days. We’ll add some cost to our current budget because we believe we can control that within our current budget, so I am requesting the board approve this supplemental pay initiative,” added Patterson.

After the Superintendent concluded his report, board members elected to unanimously approve the supplemental pay initiative.