LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Legal concerns over the JCPS bus driver bonus pay program have forced the district to come up with a new plan.

Last year, the district gave drivers a $200 bonus just for showing up to work every day. But the state recently said that wasn't legal because driver bonuses cannot cost more than providing sub drivers.

So to comply with state regulations this year, bus drivers and special needs transportation assistants now have hourly incentives.

The board approved the new plan Tuesday night, in which  bus drivers can take home an extra $2.50 per hour, per paycheck, for showing up every day. 

The district said the average full-time driver should still take home around an extra $200, but it gives them the opportunity to make more with overtime.

District leaders said there's a shortage of drivers, and these incentives are necessary.

"With that competitiveness, we've got to make sure that we provide that incentive for drivers to be there, or we'll lose them," Interim JCPS Superintendent Dr. Marty Pollio said. "So right now, we have enough drivers, but we have some vacancies with sub drivers. We cannot lose any substantial numbers of them or we will struggle to make sure we get all of our routes covered."

Currently, full-time JCPS bus drivers make $16.95 an hour with benefits. Sub drivers take home $16.83 an hour without benefits.

On an average day, between six percent and 10 percent of the district's bus drivers don't show up. At times, that's forced the district to cancel bus routes. 

During the first week of school earlier this month, two percent of bus drivers were absent, but all routes were still covered.

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