CLAREMORE, Okla. — Bus drivers often find new jobs over the summer, leaving districts scrambling to hire.
But this year Claremore Public Schools announced higher pay, $15 an hour, before the year started.
"I told the boss "I think I'll drive again next year." It was a great raise and we needed it so I hope we get some more bus drivers," driver Valerie Skimbo said.
Three years ago bus drivers were only making $9.40 an hour. It went up to 10, then 12, and this year $15. Staff with the district tell 2 Works for You it's a necessary step as districts in the area compete for limited resources.
"As any other public school in the state can tell you, it's hard to keep and retain bus drivers. So everyone thinks of strategies to make that happen," director of operations Tim Gilliam said.
When they're short on drivers, those working often double up on routes, which can lead to delays.
"If they're stressed and they haven't gotten breakfast... if they haven't gotten a good, nutritious meal then therefore the rest of the day... it's a teeter-totter whether they're going to have a good day or not. So definitely getting there on time, having breakfast, being nourished... it's that brain fuel," driver Dustin Devers said.
Devers said when fully staffed it makes it easier to set a positive tone for the day.
"So that our students and the future of education here in Oklahoma is taken care of. We as bus drivers are the first people those students see of the day and we can set the tone for the rest of their day here at school," he said.
The district is still looking to bring on a few more drivers. For more information, click here.
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