Joplin School Board approves plan to help retain bus drivers

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JOPLIN, Mo. — The Joplin School Board is moving forward with a plan to keep bus drivers.

Tuesday night the school board approved a bus driver recruitment and retention incentive program.

The plan will cost the district nearly $254,000 and starts immediately.

“There’s a bus driver shortage, so we needed to come up with a plan to help stave off the situation of drivers leaving the district and also recruit new drivers to the district,” said Dr. Kerry Sachetta, Assistant Superintendent for Operations.

Tuesday night, the Joplin Board of Education approved a bus driver recruitment and retention incentive program.

The program would give bus drivers a pay increase depending on years of service, and four work development days for training.

“We increased the hourly wages from $1.50 to $1.90 depending upon where a person was on the salary schedule and that would be per hour,” said Dr. Sachetta.

“There were 14 additional days that full time drivers have the option to work if they so chose to work during Christmas holidays and spring break,” said Dr. Sachetta.

Last year the district lost 41 bus drivers.

Bus drivers are happy this measure passed because they have been working long hours because of the shortage.

“It’s really busy its really kind of all over the place. Every day is changing. Normally we would do two routes in the morning two routes in the afternoon. There’s some people doing upwards of four five routes in the morning four five in the afternoon. Not getting done until 6 o’clock. I think its a move in the right direction,” said Rosemarie Saragusa, Joplin Bus Driver.

The district hopes the program will retain qualified drivers.

Drivers will also be able to earn up to a $500 incentive for recruiting drivers.

“I believe this is a great step in the right direction for our first and foremost our bus drivers and our district to retain and recruit high quality individuals who are carrying our most important cargo our students everyday,” said Rylee Hartwell, School Board Member.

The district will also be offering a $250 bonus for its new safe driving program.

The district would like to hire 15 bus drivers, which would help expand routes and give them substitutes for trips.

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