School District Raises Starting Bus Driver Pay

Photo by Jason Allentoff

  TOMS RIVER – Facing a bus driver shortage, Toms River Regional Board of Education members approved a raise of almost $7 per hour for beginning drivers.

  The starting salary will go from $22.11 an hour to $29.03 starting in the 2022-23 school year. This will include 6.5-hour days and 8-hour days. Both of those shifts include benefits.

  Substitute drivers will see an increase from $22.50 to $27. These positions do not include benefits. The district noted that these subs have been needed for transportation to and from athletic events and for field trips.

  The bus driver shortage isn’t new. It started years ago when the state increased the amount of training needed for drivers to include things only a mechanic might need. The pandemic made it even worse, as potential employees stayed away from the idea of spending time in a bus with children who might have COVID-19.

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  “We still have a lot of contracted bus drivers to replace – we anticipate more than 30 – so contracts are available,” said Transportation Director Laurel Venberg. “What’s even better is that new bus drivers will receive full family benefits from day 1, even if they don’t have all the licenses and endorsements yet.

  “This is the best package we’ve ever offered,” Venberg continued, “and I commend our board and administration for recognizing this driver shortage and making concrete efforts to solve it.”

  The district is reaching out to those seeking employment, stating that training is available under the new ELDT (entry level drivers training) program, which will help drivers attain the required endorsements for CDL Class B, Air Brakes, Passenger and School Bus. While drivers who need to obtain their licenses and endorsements will receive full family medical, new drivers who enter the district with the CDL with all endorsements will receive full family medical and prescription, dental, and vision coverage.

  Anyone interested in applying can visit trschools.com and go to their employment page.