JCPS bus drivers approve incentives for working more "challengin - WDRB 41 Louisville News

JCPS bus drivers approve incentives for working more "challenging" routes

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Jefferson County Public School bus drivers approved a new contract that will offer more money for working troublesome routes. 

The agreement will now go to the Jefferson County Board of Education for approval on July 27. Bus drivers would then start bidding on the routes on July 28.

The contract modification gives experienced drivers an additional $2 an hour incentive pay to take what are called more "challenging" routes. JCPS has 50 such routes, and 38 of those would have bus monitors to assist. 

"Over the past year and a half, we've had a lot of student discipline issues on the buses," Teamsters Local 783 President John Stovall said. "We sought the board's help trying to prevent some of it. This past summer, they've been more willing to work with us to identify, so they identified 50 challenging runs. On those 50 challenging runs, we're hoping to have more experienced drivers bid on them. In return for bidding on those runs, they get a $2 an hour pay increase."

JCPS has about 950 drivers but they've been hit with a number of retirements and resignations this summer. The district is trying to fill between 75 and 100 positions that pay $16.58 an hour to start. 

JCPS drives more than 70,000 kids to school every day, and crashes are common. And then there are the bus fights: at times, they get so bad drivers are forced to pull over and wait for police. 

Bus driver David Germann told WDRB in June that "I think the reason why a lot of people are leaving is mainly because of the kids. "They're -- in my honest opinion -- they're getting worse as we go. They have no discipline. No home training. They don't know how to respect people."

"There's been fighting, throwing baseballs, students bringing knives, and BB guns," Stovall said. "Laser lights shining in driver's eyes... Stuff like that makes it hard to operate the bus safely."

One woman, who's been driving for 10 years, says the challenging runs can be intimidating.

"A challenging run consists of one bus driver with 50 plus kids, that are out of control, crawling on the floors, jumping over seats, cussing, hitting other students, making obscene gestures, pulling pants down - you name it they do it," she said "and we do have one of those runs at our compound with an elementary school."

The "challenging" designation is based on factors like how many discipline referrals a school receives.  But despite the label, drivers say bad routes don't always mean bad kids.

"Once you get to know the kids you have - whether other people think that's a challenging route or not  - you get attached to your children regardless if it's challenging or not," said another driver.

The contract proposal extends current language through 2019. Overall pay will be decided in a separate vote in 2017. 

Related stories: 

JCPS considers boosting bus driver pay on problem routes after influx of retirements and resignations

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