Overqualified Underpaid School Bus Drivers

Topic 20933 | Page 1

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Kevin L.'s Comment
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I know this forum is mainly based on what it is like to be a Tractor Trailer Driver. I am not even sure if posting about School Bus drivers on here is of interest or appropriate. If it is not moderators should feel free to remove this.

I currently hold a Class A CDL with SPTN endorsements. I am only waiting on the TSA threat assessment to come back and change the N to an X. I have not driven a tractor trailer in a very long time. Recently, I accepted a position as a School Bus Driver. When I asked about the hourly rate they told me it was paid by the day $56 per day and because I would only be working the afternoons I would get half the day pay each day I worked. They said it was a split shift Mornings and afternoons. I have worked a split shift before so that is not an issue per say. I did think they were referring to the idea of work in the morning then off a few hours then working in the afternoon. I had no idea they also ment that in both the morning and afternoon shifts there was almost an hour down time where you are waiting to be loaded. Also, they told they have multiple companies and I could drive for other trips and occasions as well at different rate. I have noticed that the majority of my co workers also hold class A CDLs as well. To get the S and P endorsements in this state in addition to passing multiple background checks and attaining two separate physical cards. This state also requires 20 hours of training (14 in classroom and 6 in bus) for the S endorsement half of the training must be done prior to the physical driver testing. Even though I held a Class A license I also ha to retake my written, pretrip, skills, and road test in a Class B Bus with air brakes. Once I did all that Penndot issued me a new copy of my CDL. It was a process that actually took about two months to complete.

Once I went through the hoops set forward by the state for the S endorsement and started to drive the children around for the local school district I realized that the hardest part of the job was not the driving in tight quarters. The hardest part of the job is trying to control the children while navigating the roads at the same time. This is not easy. While it may be a great job for those who have retired from trucking or a working mother as they can often take their children to work with them or drive them on the bus. The pay rates I have seen are far from enough to make a living on. In some cases they are paid minimum wage for the first 4 hours of driving then a little more per hour after that and 21 cpm over 15 mi. for football games. I ask myself how can a position with so much responsibility pay less than a fast food restaurant. I am not sure of a way to improve the payscale for School Bus drivers as they seem to pretty much be set based upon what the school board pays the transportation company in their contract. It is no wonder for me why there is a shortage of CDL drivers to drive the school buses.

When I look online at sites like glasshouse and salary I see much higher rates than I do in the paychecks. I do love driving so much that even the school bus feels good to me. That is probably due to the having an air seat and air brakes. I do miss the manual transmission though. I think it is time for me to simply get back into a normal truck. I am curious to know if there is anyone on here that can make suggestions on how to make it better for all CDL drivers to be paid a fair wage.

It currently seems like the government is adding more and more restrictions and requirements to do different jobs in the transportation industry yet the employers are not being recognized as the valuable assets they really are. The pay is not commensurate with the job responsibilities. The school boards and government seem to be implying that a bus driver is responsible for what goes on behind their backs in the bus as well as driving at the same time. There are no student to bus driver limitations like there are in classrooms. The bus I drive is 72 passenger with about 25 k-2nd grade children the rest are 3-5th grade. As a driver it is impossible to control that many people and drive at the same time.


Commercial Driver's License (CDL)

A CDL is required to drive any of the following vehicles:

  • Any combination of vehicles with a gross combined weight rating (GCWR) of 26,001 or more pounds, providing the gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of the vehicle being towed is in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any single vehicle with a GVWR of 26,001 or more pounds, or any such vehicle towing another not in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any vehicle, regardless of size, designed to transport 16 or more persons, including the driver.
  • Any vehicle required by federal regulations to be placarded while transporting hazardous materials.


Department Of Transportation

A department of the federal executive branch responsible for the national highways and for railroad and airline safety. It also manages Amtrak, the national railroad system, and the Coast Guard.

State and Federal DOT Officers are responsible for commercial vehicle enforcement. "The truck police" you could call them.


Cents Per Mile

Drivers are often paid by the mile and it's given in cents per mile, or cpm.


Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
JakeBreak's Comment
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That my friend is the reason I made the decision to not even bother with the bus endorsement on my license. The pay for school bus drivers has never been great and it definitely hasn't kept up at all. And short of just not working for them there really isn't anything to do about it. The school bus companies bid for the jobs from the district and the District is always going to pick the lowest one. If the school district set standards for contraters to pay thier employees it would probably be better, but then it would cost too much.

Cornelius A.'s Comment
member avatar

School bus companies contracts with school districts are were all the board members make their money. There is a lot of bribing and political play going on in that world... and the company owners are the biggest corner cutters that exist in the transportation world... if trucking people thought they were the ones then they should rethink that again. I always like sitting down with this older gentleman in our office that specializes in school buses insurance (since 1974) and boy some of the stories he tells me about the school bus industry will make Al Capone look like a saint.

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