School bus driver says better pay, benefits would solve shortage

Published: Nov. 19, 2021 at 4:01 PM EST
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TOWN OF BROWNVILLE, New York (WWNY) - We’ve heard from school districts about a shortage of bus drivers. Longtime drivers will tell you there’s a reason for it. They’ll also tell you here’s a simple solution.

It’s not always a smooth ride for school bus drivers.

“We have to go through a lot to drive bus. We have to have our fingerprints done, we have to be ran through the FBI. We have a lot of courses we have to do to maintain our license,” said Tina Desormeau.

Desormeau has been driving for General Brown Central School District for 15 years. She has an idea to attract more drivers.

“I just feel like a competitive pay and health benefits would really help out a lot to get bus drivers through the door. Affordable health insurance for all of our bus drivers,” she said.

Superintendent Barbara Case says the school is following a 2019 collective bargaining agreement with drivers and it goes through 2024.

“In 2019 when this contract was ratified, we felt very confident, as did the union members, that it was a very positive move in the right direction to encourage people to continue to work at General Brown,” she said.

Case says depending on experience, employees who are part-time make between $15.50 and $21 dollars an hour.

Perks include health, vision, and dental insurance, a health insurance buyout, state retirement, and longevity pays.

And those who worked last year got a retention bonus this year.

“We want people to come work at General Brown and we feel that very much values our employees, but sometimes it gets lost in the day-to-day operations,” said Case.

Desormeau says many bus drivers with the right license could make more money driving commercial trucks. However, money isn’t the only reason Desormeau drives bus.

“We have a lot of great kids. That’s what really keeps us coming back,” she said.

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