February 1, 2006
Some school bus drivers in Albemarle County are speaking out in hopes of getting a higher salary. They say they've been underpaid for too long. Several of those school bus drivers voiced their concerns at the school board meeting. The main argument was that trash pickup drivers are being paid more to pick up the trash than bus drivers are to pick up children.
Frank Morris spoke at the meeting to make his point that his salary doesn't reflect his responsibility.
"Show some kind of appreciation to the driver. Realize that we have all the children out here in our hands," said Morris.
Morris has been driving for the county over 30 years and makes about $14.50 an hour. That's for an average of three hours a day, but in actuality, he says prepping and maintaining the buses adds more hours, which should add more money.
"They see us during the day because we're working outside, they say your part-time because you got the day off, I'm sorry we pull six, seven, eight hours a day, plus [we] have to work a second job to get ahead," said Morris.
Out of the four counties we checked with, bus drivers in Albemarle County made the least. Fluvanna pays nearly $19/hr., Greene County pay almost $15/hr., Charlottesville around $12/hr. and Albemarle County pays $10 dollars/hr.
"We get less for hauling children than a lot of people get for hauling fruit or anything else," said school bus driver Miriam Fuller .
For Morris, that's just not good enough for the risk he takes each day on the road.
"A driver can be sued and lose everything he's got out here for $15-16,000 a year, I'm not putting my house and everything I've worked 50 years up for," said Morris. "If things go like they're going now, I won't be back next year."
Albemarle County bus drivers did get up to a five percent raise last year based on an evaluation. In their opinion, that just isn't good enough, especially not enough for the huge responsibility they take on every day. School board members plan to review the bus driver salaries at Thursday's planning session. A final budget proposal will be submitted over the next few weeks.