Pay increases for Johnson City school bus drivers, still in need of drivers

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School bus drivers are needed for Johnson City schools.

The city of Johnson City aims to employ at least 62 school bus drivers at any given time, but as of Monday, they are 8 to 10 drivers short.

“The most delighted thing for me is when I get to see those kids come on the bus,” said T.R. Dunn, a former coach who now serves as the a student behavior management specialist with Johnson City Transit.

Dunn has spent years driving kids to and from school.

“I just love it,” he said, “I love the interaction that we have with kids.”

Dunn describes the need for bus drivers as “huge.” Now, transit leaders have increased pay and benefits in an effort to fill those positions.

“We’re trying to recruit people that will take this job very serious yet,” he said, “you get to make an impact in some child’s life.”

Starting pay for a city school bus driver is now $14.68 hourly and $30,528 a year.

The city of Johnson City also offers commercial driver’s license training to those without a CDL, with training rates starting at $9 an hour.

“We offer the best benefits in the area,” said Bradley Osborne, city of Johnson City Transit Planner.

The total benefits package for new full-time employees amounts to $18.35 per hour or $38,160 dollars annually.

It includes a deductible of $475 in-network, a $104 single monthly premium or a $266 family monthly premium, health benefits starting at 30 hours per week and a 401k plan with a match.

“We have people that are grandparents, people that are parents, people that are teachers, coaches,” said Dunn, “we have all types of people that drive these school buses and they just come back and they love it.”

Osborne also says that Johnson City school bus drivers will receive support from full-time supervisors and staff. Currently, JCT has three supervisors, two trainers, an assistant director, and a director who provide assistance.

“Many days, to many times you are the first person and only person to say good morning and too many times you’re the last person to say hope you have a good afternoon,” said Osborne.

“We’re carrying the most precious cargo,” said Dunn. “Our job is very important.”

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