School board votes to increase bus driver wages

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Perry County School District 32 Board of Education met in regular session Nov. 9 to discuss the transportation salary schedule, which had been tabled at a special Oct. 26 meeting, the bus replacement schedule, and other matters.
“We all know that we have a shortage of bus drivers,” said Board President Nancy Voelker. “We all want to be fully staffed with drivers, and we want to address wages for the district as a whole. We want to look at it equally and make our decisions based on what’s best for our district. Tonight, we are starting with the driver salaries.”
Superintendent Andy Comstock said that drivers will now be eligible to receive all of their years of previous professional driving experience.
“All drivers received a pay rate increase; the previous minimum rate of pay was $55 per day, which is now $66 plus mileage of 20 cents per mile over a 30-mile route,” he said. “That’s a beginning rate of $22 per hour for a driver with no experience and our average of 3 hours per day of work. Drivers will receive annual step increases as well. Driver on trips will have a wage of $15.80 per hour.”
One exception to this new schedule is the full-time day driver(s) who will be placed on the salary schedule at one-half of the years of experience they provide on their verification form.
Mark Gremaud expressed his concern that it will be hard to attract new drivers at $66 per day.
“I’m not certain that $66 is going to bring a lot of new drivers, but I agree that this is a place to start.”
Voelker said all drivers have been given verification forms to report their years of previous driving experience; if a driver doesn’t return the form, they will be given credit only for their years of driving for the district.
“I hope we can hold on to the drivers we have by increasing the wage and paying them for their experience,” she said.
The motion to increase the bus driver wages passed unanimously.
The district’s technology director, Dan Querry, presented information about the 2022 School Violence Prevention Program Grant.
The grant will allow the district to increase physical safety on campus including cell phone signal boosters, automatic doors, cameras and wiring, door access control, and a suite of tools for disaster response and reunification.

The grant brings in $92,089 in federal funds with a 25% match from the district of $30,695.
The district’s match is $17,827.17 this year, and just under $13,000 for the next two years.
The board approved the updated job description for TESOL – Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages, reviewed a proposed bus replacement timeline, and
Director Liz House of Perry County Health Department presented the results of the most recent Community Health Needs Assessment. The top three priorities have been identified as mental health, heart disease, and tobacco/substance use.
Other concerns were prescription drug affordability, access to health care, obesity, chronic diseases like cancer and diabetes, and safe and affordable housing.
Filing will open on Tuesday, Dec. 6, 2022 and close Dec. 27 for the April 2023 Municipal Election, when two seats will open on the District 32 Board of Education. Those seats are currently held by xxxxxxxxx
Those interested in serving on a public school board in Missouri must meet the following qualifications:
A U.S. citizen.
A resident taxpayer of a district or voter of the district in urban districts.
A resident of Missouri for at least one year.
At least 24 years old.
Candidates must also be current on state and local taxes; have not been found guilty of or pled guilty to a felony under Missouri or federal law; are not registered or required to register as a sex offender; and have filed required campaign documents for all previous campaigns, if any.
Perry County Health Department Director Liz House presented the Community Health Needs Assessment to the Board of Education.

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