When it came to the actual dollar amounts, the two most common pay ranges (I call them the sweet spot), were $19 to $21.99 and $24 to $25.99 per hour. Te other obvious result was that at $28 an hour or above, the quantity of respondents fell off the cliff. At those ranges, the survey returned only 32 responses spread across eight categories, with an average of four per category for any answer indicating pay above $28 per hour. In terms of the starting pay for school bus

drivers, the average was $12.62 per hour, with a median (midpoint) wage of $16 per hour, based on 466 survey responses. When extrapolated over a 40-hour

week and 52-week year, $12.62 per hour would equate to an annual wage of $26,249. Using the same methodology, the median wage of $16 per hour would result in an annual wage of $33,280 per year. However, the problem is that the vast majority of school bus drivers are part-time work- ers, who work only nine to 10 months a year. Compare that to an


drivers was at their particular locations. Eight-seven percent, or 427 respondents, provided a specific hourly rate, while 20 of the other 59 remaining respondents did not. Te remaining responses provided pay rates based on the number

of routes, or compensation based on day, week, month or year, that STN was unable to convert into an hourly rate. A few others said the rate depended on the total amount of experience or the years of service at that school.


21 15

STATES WITH NO RESPONSES TO STN SURVEY Connecticut, Hawaii, New Hampshire & Vermont

operating in key oil boom states, such as the Dakotas and Texas, has risen well-past $100,000 per year, especially when overtime pay is factored in. Te ATA data did confirm that trucker pay and benefits have climbed, as rising demand for freight transportation services has boosted competition for increasingly scarce drivers. In addition, fleets have been offering “generous signing bonuses and benefit packages to attract and keep drivers.” ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello said, “Tis latest survey, which includes data from more than 100,000 drivers, shows that fleets are reacting to an increasingly tight market for drivers, by boosting pay, improving benefit packages, and offering other en- ticements to recruit and retain safe and experienced drivers.” He added that, “Our survey told us that carriers are offering thousands of dollars in bonuses to attract new drivers. Plus, once drivers are hired, fleets are immediately offering benefits like paid leave, health insurance and 401(k)s to keep them.” Costello then made the connection between pay in-



average salary of $53,000 per year ($25.48 per hour) for national truck drivers who drive irregular routes, based on a driver compensation survey conducted by the American Truck Association (ATA) earlier this year. ATA said these truck drivers received an average increase of $7,000 (15 percent) over the past five years. Private fleet drivers, though, saw their pay jump to over $86,000

a year from $73,000 in 2013. Tat’s an 18 percent increase, ac- cording to ATA.

IMPACT OF COMPETITION FOR DRIVERS It appears that in many regions, the booming oil industry’s almost insatiable demand for truck drivers has made it harder for school districts to compete when trying to hire the best school bus drivers—or even those who meet the minimum qualifications and experience. Truckers are consistently being recruited to start at significantly higher base salaries than school bus drivers. In some cases, brand-new truck driver applicants are being paid more than many college-educated workers. According to many news reports published over the past few years, the average annual compensation for oil rig truckers

34 School Transportation News • OCTOBER 2018

creases and retention. “Tis data demonstrates that fleets are reacting to concerns about the driver shortage, by raising pay and working to make the job more attractive,” he added. “I expect that trend to continue, as demand for trucking services increase, as our economy grows.”

Still, much of the truck industry complains about its own driver shortage, as a New York Times article reported in July 2018.


BOOSTING TAKE-HOME PAY Te current pay rates for school bus drivers would seem to be an obvious con- cern for almost all readers surveyed by STN. Surprising- ly, however, only slightly more

than 53 percent said yes, current pay rates are negatively affecting driver retention. In contrast, 36 percent said pay was not a factor, and 11 percent did not know either way. Another surprise was the almost even split in responses to a

question asking if raising driver pay by $1 or $2 per hour over cur- rent rates would make a difference. Over 36 percent said yes, while more than 37 percent responded with no, and nearly 26.5 percent said they didn’t know). Another eye-opening result: 293 failed to answer the question. Meanwhile, out in the “real world,” we found some new examples of what happened when school districts raised starting pay for their drivers by at least $1 this year. In August, South Carolina’s Horry County Schools was able to fill 43 of 47 driver vacancies after raising starting pay by one dollar, to $13 an hour, reported local television station ABC 15. Te Polk County, Florida, school board voted unanimously on

Sept. 4 to try and solve its continuing shortage of around 70 drivers, by agreeing to raise the base wage by $1.22 for full-time drivers to $13.40, from the existing rate of $12.18 per hour, reported WTVT

$20.0 $25.0 $19.00 $22.00 $18.00 $24.0 $17.00 $16.00 $14.99 $26.0 $23.0 $15.00 $27.00 $28.0 $29.0 $30.0 $32.0 $35.0 $33.0 $34.0 $31.00

(Based o nearest h approxim

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