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Flagler Schools’ Bus Drivers and Nurses, Among Others, Finally Get Modest Pay Increase

| December 8, 2016

bus drivers pay increase flagler schools

A bit more pay for a thankless job. (© FlaglerLive)

For the first time in years, bus drivers and nurses in the Flagler County school district will see a base-salary increase. The school board approved the plan Tuesday as part of a larger package of raises, some of which will give district administrators modest pay increases, too.

The $800,000 plan provides for $2-an-hour increases for bus drivers, $3.65-an-hour increases for nurses, 25-cent-an-hour increases for all other non-instructional employees, and, a 25-cent-an-hour increase for adult education personnel, and central office administrators and some in the professional ranks. (Teachers got their raise two years ago. An earlier version of this story incorrectly included teachers among those receiving a 25-cent-an-hour increase.)

The increase for bus drivers was especially notable for the district, which has had trouble recruiting bus drivers because of the low pay: the starting pay for a bus driver with no years of experience locally was $10.42 an hour.  That will increase to $12.5 an hour. A bus driver runs routes totaling either 4.5 hours or 6.5 hours a day. For a maximum of 32.5 hours a week, so the driver working 6.5 hours will be making $406.25 a week, or $14,625 a year, being employed for 36 weeks of school.

“I know we needed to come up with a solution so we could be competitive in hiring bus drivers with salaries, nurses also,” Vernon Orndorff, the deputy superintendent, said. “But then we have great employees, we want to reward them with incentives when we can and this was an opportunity.”

Orndorff is part of the district’s negotiating team with the service employees’ and the teachers’ unions.

“Thank you to the teams, both teams, for working so hard,” school board member Colleen Conklin said. “I know that was a lot of negotiations back and forth. I know we are not quite where we want to be, but we’re working in the right direction, and hopefully we’ll get there at some point in time. I think this was a good negotiation, hopefully it will help with some of the situations we had in recruiting for transportation.”

Staring school nurses make $12.65 an hour. That would increase to $16 an hour, or $23,000 a year. That rate, with the step plan, maxes out at $28.35 an hour, or $40,800. The starting pay is still barely above the living-wage standard for the area, and below it if the nurse has a family to support. Increasing nurses’ pay had been a long-time goal of Sue Dickinson, the school board member who just retired.

“I know this would be a happy day for Ms. Dickinson because she asked for this for a long time, but we want to thank her for her leadership,” Superintendent Jacob Oliva said.

The school board approved the plan without discussion, and in one vote, even though the vote approved entirely separate matters: on one hand, the board approved a reworked contract with the Flagler Educational Support Professional Association, the union known as FESPA. The union membership voted with an 81 percent margin to approve the new contract. On the other hand, the board also approved the salary increases unrelated to the union contract.

The contract with the teachers’ union was approved earlier this year, also with built-in raises: a starting teacher in Flagler County now starts at $40,200 a year, after spending many years at the starting pay of $38,000.

With both teachers and non-instructional employees, including professionals, pay increases include a so-called step plan—an annual, automatic pay increase based on experience and education. For example, a teacher with one year’s experience will get a $600 raise, a teacher with seven years’ experience will be at $44,400 a year, and so on. A Master’s degree adds $2,750 to the base pay, a doctorate adds $5,500, so a teacher with 35 years’ experience and advanced degrees could be in the $80,000 range.

The merit-pay increase system the Legislature instituted two years ago may stand in lieu of step increases, with pay raises of between $600 and $1,000, depending on where the teacher falls in the step plan.

Oddly, directors—that is, n on-scholol-based administrators—will also see a small pay increase, with the 25 cents an hour bump working out to $8.75 a week for most of them (who ostensibly work seven-hour days, though many work more than that, 12 months a year), or about $450 a year. Directors and other top administrators’ starting pay ranges from $58,109 to $95,437, without the step increases. When a 20-year step increase is added, the range is $86,000 to $153,000. That explains the wide variety of top administrators’ salaries.

Orndorff said the salary increases were based on an internal study. All the salary increases approved Tuesday are retroactive to July 1.

10 Responses for “Flagler Schools’ Bus Drivers and Nurses, Among Others, Finally Get Modest Pay Increase”

  1. Mike says:

    Fantastic. I can almost afford Cracker Barrel.

  2. brian says:

    so a mcd’s ff boy makes the same as a nurse!! cool!! this country is a joke!!!!!!!!

  3. BlueJammers says:

    Wonderful! These good people take care of our children and deserve much more than the pittance salaries that they have received in the past. Especially the nurses.

  4. John Boy says:

    Wouldn’t it be nice if no one who worked for a living was to be paid less than $15.00 per hour.
    Think about what the working poor would with that extra money.
    It would help a lot of people to be able to live a little better in this great country of ours.
    is that too much to ask of our fellow citizens?

  5. cs says:

    Here in Palm Coast you overpay your city manager by nearly $75,000 compared to a comparably sized city near a major city (Atlanta), overpay your commissioners, way overpay your city attorney, yet underpay your bus drivers and other utility workers? I remember in 2008 (nearly 8 years ago) seeing help wanted – bus driver signs and notices all over my former county where the pay STARTED at $15 an hour. Palm Coast, your priorities are really screwed up.

  6. Frank says:

    Wow i cannot believe we are in-titled to .25 per hour. now i can afford to get a new pair of socks.

  7. blondee says:

    Don’t get me started on school bus drivers! Apparently most are challenged at reading speed limit signs.

  8. DaveT says:

    Flagler County must have found money somewhere, know doubt from some Fed aid for Matthew, a slight of hand accounting move, just saying.

  9. FLnative2 says:

    Good for them! They need a raise, it isn’t a easy job. Working for Palm Coast Data @ 10.49 a hour customer service , without a raise for many years & being told “they don’t care” (HR & head honcho’s), applying for a bus driver position looks very appealing.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Not all it’s cracked up to be they give and take

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