CHARLOTTE, N.C. — In an effort to attract and retain more qualified bus drivers, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education voted Tuesday to raise the pay scale.

The vote on October 12 will increase the hourly starting rate to $17.75, up $2 from the previous starting pay. Driver pay will then increase between $2 and $3 per hour based on experience, according to the district.

CMS says it will continue offering $1,000 signing and retention bonuses for new drivers.

“We are glad to have found a way to provide a more competitive pay scale for the employees who have the responsibility of taking children to and from school,” Elyse Dashew, board chair, said in a release Wednesday. “This new pay structure will make us more competitive with CATS and surrounding school districts, and should alleviate the bus-driver shortage. Getting kids to school on time for a full day of learning is more important than ever.”

The district has been struggling to cover roughly 140 vacancies a day, according to Adam Johnson who is the executive director of transportation.

In addition to the roughly 50 open bus driver positions, the district says another 50 or so drivers are on leave and another 30, roughly, are absent on a daily basis.

Bus driver salaries are going to be funded with transportaion funds created by a drop in riders and better routes, according to a release.

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