Peoria Unified School District board approves $3 pay raise amid school bus driver shortage

School districts across the country are dealing with a shortage of bus drivers, and Peoria Unified School District is one of those districts.

Currently, Peoria Unified is short about 20 bus drivers, and district officials say the shortage is having an impact on school bus routes.

"Last week, we did have to cancel nine bus routes," said Peoria Unified spokesperson Danielle Airey.

On Oct. 14, Peoria's school board approved, via unanimous vote, a $3 an hour raise. Currently, their lowest rate is about $13.80 an hour.

"This is an addition to a stipend voted on last month, all current and new bus drivers can take advantage of that. It's a $1,750 stipend for them," said Airey.

Prior to the board's decision, administrators and parents in Peoria Unified voiced support for a pay increase, in hopes of creating a more competitive wage and lure more applicants.

"With bus routes being cancelled, short staff, not enough salary, it's important because this is our kids' education. It's another interruption to our kids' education, and I know bus drivers care about our kids," said parent Heather Brooks. "I think that Peoria really needs to think about the bus drivers and their salary increase. It's the safety of our kids. The bus drivers, they’re holding our kids' lives in their hands."

Nearby school district has approved pay hike

A month ago, nearby Dysart Unified School District approved a pay raise for bus drivers, raising their lowest rate to $20 an hour. Dysart Unified officials say since they implemented the raise, more than three dozen people have applied.

"We were getting one to two applicants a week maybe. We've had over 40 applicants in the last three weeks," said Dysart Unified School District Transportation Manager Doug Curry. "We've had people transfer from within the district. One security guard, crossing guard. Yes, it's a liveable wage now."

Curry said Dysart is in the process of hiring 10 bus drivers from other school districts, and about 15 new hires who will be trained.

"If we don’t get them to school, we can't teach them," said Curry.

The positions at Peoria Unified include full benefits.

Apply to become a Peoria Unified bus driver

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