DUNLAP — Bus drivers at Concord Community Schools will soon see a slight raise in their paychecks and have the option of applying for health insurance – a change officials say is needed to remain competitive with neighboring school districts.
The school board recently approved the plan, which calls for a 50-cent raise for all bus drivers. The hourly rate will jump from $19 to $19.50 for a starting bus driver and $18.50 to $19 for substitute drivers. The pay will top out at $23 for experienced drivers.
In addition, the corporation will also offer health care, vision and dental coverage to bus drivers who work 25 hours or more. Both measures took effect on July 1.
Concord Assistant Superintendent Scott Kovatch said the corporation conducted a market analysis in May where officials looked at neighboring districts that were similar in size in the number of buses and the number of students being transported.
The comparison found that Concord was the only district that did not offer health care.
“We’ve had bus drivers who’ve asked if we’re at some point going to offer health care and if we did they’d be interested in coming to our district,” Kovatch said. “So, we saw this as a key piece that we needed to get on the table to compete and make ourselves more marketable.”
The corporation provides busing for about 4,000 students, roughly 75 percent of the student body. Currently, the corporation has 30 bus drivers – down about 10 from previous years, officials said.
Of the 30 drivers, about half have expressed an interest in signing up for the health care plan, according to Shannan Simon, director of transportation for the corporation.
Based on the number of drivers interested in enrolling, Kovatch said the insurance is projected to cost the district about $80,000. The 50 cent raise for all drivers is estimated at about $30,000.
Overall, Kovatch said he expects the new compensation plan to cost around $125,000 given that more drivers could be interested in applying this fall.
The money will come out of the district’s operation’s fund.
Earlier the board approved new start times to better accommodate its bus fleet, moving from a two-tier bus schedule to a triple-tier system for the 2019-20 school year.