Union County Public Schools is giving one-time bonuses to hourly transportation staff this month as many have received reductions in pay during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Many of the district’s 275 bus drivers and 66 transportation safety assistants are working 28 to 32 hours a week due to the reduction of hours on Fridays, according to a memo by Chief Finance Officer Shanna McLamb.
“The remote learning days have resulted in a reduction in route times resulting in 15,000 less hours paid as of October payroll compared to the same time frame last year,” McLamb wrote. “The result is an average loss of 10-15 hours per month.”
Bus drivers would get a one-time bonus, ranging from $125 to $500, depending on the length of employment and hours worked per day. Safety monitors would get between $100 and $350 based on those same factors.
This would total $225,000 and come out of local school funds, according to board vice-chair Kathy Heintel.
“Out of 5,000 employees in Union County Public Schools, the largest employer in Union County, our bus drivers and safety monitors are the only employees that were not getting paid on Fridays because we are using Friday as remote learning days,” school board chari Melissa Merrell said. “For middle school and high schools, they are only going two days a week, but it was shocking to me and the rest of the board to learn that our bus drivers were the only ones not getting paid because of that remote learning day.”
UCPS has offered hourly transportation staff opportunities to make up pay through custodial work at the new transportation center, WiFi buses and extra assignments to support Exceptional Children students.
Merrell said the district has a shortage of between 55 and 60 bus drivers.
“We wanted to recognize these employees for the wonderful work that they are doing during extraordinary times,” Merrell said. “We are happy to offer this bonus right here at the holidays for our bus drivers and our safety monitors.”
Remote learning day
Union County Public Schools has made Dec. 21 a remote learning day for elementary and middle schools after receiving feedback from parents and teachers. High schools will be using the day as a make-up day for exams.