Superintendent Contreras Issues Statement Regarding Bus Drivers
Nov 21, 2019 – Guilford County Schools Superintendent Sharon L. Contreras issued the following statement in response to news that district bus drivers planned to report to work Monday-Tuesday, Nov. 25-26.
“School bus drivers are often the first district representative children see in the morning and the last one they see after school. Their work is vitally important, and they deserve better pay and to be treated with dignity and respect,” said Contreras. “I’m proud and grateful that our drivers always put the needs of our students first and I plan to keep fighting for better pay and more training for these dedicated employees.”
While GCS anticipates bus drivers will be at work on Monday, officials still caution parents that because of the confusion surrounding this issue and the ongoing driver shortage, some buses may run behind schedule. Transportation supervisors and other staff who hold a commercial driver’s license will be prepared to drive as needed on Monday.
In early October, the Board of Education approved Contreras’ recommendation to use $2 million in the district’s fund balance to provide bonuses to the district’s approximately 550 school bus drivers, who complete nearly 2,500 routes each day. The bonuses will be paid over multiple months this school year and next. Approximately 35,000 GCS students ride buses to school each day. The district currently has about 60 bus driver vacancies.
Last spring, the Guilford County Schools received an increase of $4 million for the 2019-2020 budget from the Guilford County Commissioners that had to be used to cover higher costs for employee health insurance, charter school enrollment and utilities.
Currently, the legislature has not approved a final state budget for this school year; however, a “step increase” on the salary schedule was approved for teachers, principals and assistant principals.
Pay scales are set by the state and districts can use local funding from boards of county commissioners to supplement pay or add personnel. School districts in North Carolina do not have taxing authority.