Incentives considered to retain bus drivers

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Richmond County school officials are considering incentives to curb the high turnover of transportation employees.

"We want to get safe drivers, we want to get dependable drivers, but we need a program. We need some kind of incentive program," L.A. Green, a retiring bus driver, said during a Wednesday meeting of the school system's transportation council.

Mr. Green, a member of the council, presented initiatives he said he hopes will encourage employees to stay on the job, including offering $50 to anyone who has perfect attendance for the year.

According to Michael Shinn, the director of transportation, a preliminary review of records found that only four employees had perfect attendance this year. The department has about 200 bus drivers, in addition to other employees.

Low pay and little appreciation have created a high turnover of employees in the department, Mr. Green said. That's why drivers need to be acknowledged when they complete a school year without having an accident, there should be an appreciation banquet at a facility other than a greasy garage and paid training for those who want to become drivers.

As it is, people aren't paid to undergo training, Mr. Shinn said. State law prohibits him from hiring drivers without a commercial driver's license and he can't pay someone who isn't an employee.

"It's a real dilemma for us. It's a real problem," he said.

Complicating matters, drivers who get their CDL from the school system often leave to obtain a higher paying job elsewhere, he said.

Incentives are welcome, but won't solve the problem with turnover, said Sallie Thomas, the president of Transport Workers Union Local 239. The department's leadership causes much of the turnover, she said.

Even with the city, where bus drivers are paid more because they work year-round, turnover is high, said Heyward Johnson, director of Augusta Public Transit. The pool of applicants has dwindled in recent years, and there are currently five vacancies.

Reach Greg Gelpi at (706) 828-3851 or greg.gelpi@augustachronicle.com.

Comments (16) Add comment
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DeborahElliott2
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DeborahElliott2 05/22/08 - 05:27 am
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ROFL, and you think that by

ROFL, and you think that by offering a pitiful $50 for a whole year to those with a perfect attendance will retain them???? Ahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha! You really are Crazy! Look at what you are offering and start from there shall we? You won't pay for their training, and they need a CDL license, and the employee to be is suppose to pay for that too. Then you have bus drivers that are suppose to "speed" cause they have to pick up kids and by golly, some are even caught "running to catch the bus", and then you have those kids who for god only knows why cause fights and the driver has to intervene in them and still get them to school on time, and then you dink the bus drivers who get to the destinations Late, all while giving them a pitiful paycheck in the first place. And you didn't pass math class either did you? This means LESS money not more for the drivers cause they have a CDL to pay for (and those are not cheap by the way), and you won't give them someone to ride those buses and monitor the kids while driving. You are asking these people to work for minimum wage and dock their pay too! No wonder they won't work for you.

Inkjet
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Inkjet 05/22/08 - 07:00 am
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Amen Deborah! Yeah, the $50

Amen Deborah! Yeah, the $50 sounds more like a rebate for that money spent to earn a CDL!

Inkjet
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Inkjet 05/22/08 - 07:04 am
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I know I wouldn't want that

I know I wouldn't want that job, no matter how much you paid me it could never be enough for all the hassle those drivers go through. If I took the time and my hard earned money to get my own CDL, I wouldn't waste it on a school bus driving job.

jackfruitpaper833
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jackfruitpaper833 05/22/08 - 07:59 am
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We had good bus drivers back

We had good bus drivers back in the day.

BassFamily
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BassFamily 05/22/08 - 08:26 am
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That's the problem with the

That's the problem with the entire RCBOE - low pay and no appreciation. The only reason teachers and cafeteria managers get a raise each year is because if they didn't there would be high turn over in the classroom, the lunch room and on the bus so RCBOE figures 1 out of the 3 is not so bad. As for appreciation, it does not exist.

WHATDIDIDO
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WHATDIDIDO 05/22/08 - 08:46 am
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Getting a steady paycheck,

Getting a steady paycheck, shows that you are appreciated. Keeping your job, is the only incentive needed. IMHO.

silent_minority
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silent_minority 05/22/08 - 09:31 am
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The ineptitude demonstrated

The ineptitude demonstrated in the school officials comments is staggering....

People work for money. Plain and simple. Why would anyone think that an appreciation ceremony is a subsitute?

It's a dumb, dumb world out there, and these puffed-up morons will always gravitate to the public eduction and government service arenas. 'Whatever offers most job security. They wouldn't last an hour in the private sector.

Concerned Teach
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Concerned Teach 05/22/08 - 11:07 am
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What everyone fails to

What everyone fails to recognize is our personal choice, and taking responsibility for one's own actions. Debbie got a big laugh out of the above article, but something you need to remember is that NO ONE has a RIGHT to a job. Why does it become the taxpayers responsibility to pay for and train someone to get a CDL license to drive a school Bus. Those people that CHOOSE to become a School Bus Driver, make that choice freely. Nobody puts a gun to their head and forces them to take a job with the BOE. You agree upon employment with an organization to what they say they'll pay you, OR you can turn it down and work someplace else. 50 bucks may sound like a pittance, and I'd agree that 50 bucks in today's dollars isn't much, BUT, the employer is under no obligation to offer any more than the agreed upon wage. Quit making excuses for ourselves when it is ultimately our own choice on weather we get off our butts and get better job skills and educations!

thistownisunbelievable
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thistownisunbelievable 05/22/08 - 11:13 am
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Hypo, you appear to be stuck

Hypo, you appear to be stuck in the 50's. The 1850's. Keeping your job is not "the only incentive needed." If it was, they wouldn't need bus drivers because the drivers would just be happy to take down a paycheck. Employers have to compete for employees and those that take your philosphy will always have high turnover. I don't blame the drivers for seeking better opportunities.

WHATDIDIDO
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WHATDIDIDO 05/22/08 - 01:05 pm
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Like I said, keeping your job

Like I said, keeping your job is the incentitive. If you sign a contract then honor it or move on. As far as turnover rates, not to be disrespectful but, exactly how many other companies OUT there that hire bus drivers, all of the time? Just asking the question. Just wondering ehistown, concerned teach said the same thing that I did yet you focused on me, I hope it's not a case of shoot the messenger....? LOL

DeborahElliott2
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DeborahElliott2 05/22/08 - 01:34 pm
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Concerned Teach, I know that

Concerned Teach, I know that CDL licenses are not cheap and the $50 for a perfect Year attendance may sound quite obserd to say the least, but even I know that when they dock pay cause a bus driver is LATE, then you are only asking for higher turnover. DO THE MATH! Would you like your pay docked if you are late when some punk kid starts a fight in class and you can't teach the class?? Think about that and let me know.

Little Lamb
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Little Lamb 05/22/08 - 04:50 pm
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The first thing they need to

The first thing they need to do is increase the distance from the school in which you are eligible to ride the bus. I would say that an approximate three-mile circle around the school would be the standard. Live in the circle, and you cannot ride the bus.

Farful
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Farful 05/22/08 - 06:09 pm
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$50 ??? This is truly

$50 ??? This is truly unbeleivable and an insult to the drivers.

gnx
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gnx 05/23/08 - 12:06 am
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I have to agree with Hypo as

I have to agree with Hypo as he made some good points - these days most people deem themselves 'too good' to work certain jobs. Also, these days if you have a job it's best to hang on to it as long as you can. On the other hand, the drivers aren't paid well enough to endure the daily stress of hauling around unappreciative, noisy children and dealing with parents who think their little darlings are the most perfect beings on earth. You couldn't pay me enough to drive a school bus!

jstrom21
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jstrom21 05/23/08 - 12:46 am
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Some of you people are

Some of you people are something else. First of all, I hope you don't get paid based upon your abilities to spell. Secondly, you state that it is an insult to suggest a $50 incentive to the drivers when one of the insultees just happens to be THE insulter! Driving a bus can be a difficult job these days. When I was in school we had students driving. Even then I thought they did great jobs and if you messed with your driver, you would also have to deal with them during the school day too...additional reasons to behave. Bus drivers don't make much money, but isn't the pay mentioned before they accept the position? Some of you are simply laughable.

FallingLeaves
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FallingLeaves 05/23/08 - 12:42 pm
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yeah, I nearly spit my ice

yeah, I nearly spit my ice water out trying not to laugh when I read $50 incentive. You've got to be kidding!

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