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School districts wait to see if pay hike brings more bus drivers

Contractors providing bus drivers to Delaware school districts say it’s too early to say whether a pay increase will help with driver shortages.

State lawmakers added more money to school districts’ transportation budgets in fiscal year 2019 so bus drivers could get a pay hike.

Gerald Dutton owns Dutton Bus Service in Millsboro and is president of the Delaware Bus Drivers Association. He said 100 more bus drivers are needed to fill the current shortage across the state.

The state uses a formula to pay school districts a transportation allowance, and Dutton notes the $600 increase to that allowance translates into just $2 more a day in pay for drivers.

“It was a fairly small increase considering for the years we haven’t gotten an increase, but it was something that you know at least we’re able to give the drivers a little bit of an increase,” he said.

Dutton said they are just now seeing that extra money show up in their paychecks.

“It’s too early to see a difference in acquiring drivers because for one, the process still takes the same amount of time, about three months to get somebody licensed,” he said.

Dutton said bus drivers went without a pay raise for about a decade. He adds a full increase for drivers will be a four-year process and will depend on available revenue each year.

He also wants lawmakers to look at shortening the licensing process for drivers.

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