The El Paso Independent School District board of trustees voted this week to approve increasing starting pay for bus drivers to offer more competitive rates.
The district's starting hourly pay for bus drivers is now highest among the three largest school districts in El Paso, as well as the Las Cruces district. The pay increases will take effect immediately.
Bus drivers previously made $15.30 an hour and will now make $17 an hour. Lead bus drivers used to make $16.30 an hour and will now make $18 an hour.
Previously, the district could only guarantee drivers would work 20 hours per week. The district will now guarantee 30 hours per week.
Starting hourly pay for bus drivers at the Ysleta ISD is $16.08 an hour, per the district's salary schedule for 2021-22.
Starting hourly pay for bus drivers at Socorro ISD is $15.50 an hour, per the district's salary schedule for the 2021-22 academic year.
In nearby Las Cruces, the starting salary for drivers is $13 per hour.
The Las Cruces Sun-News reported a 23-driver deficit out of about 120 bus routes at Las Cruces Public Schools in August related to operating issues during the COVID-19 pandemic.
This was amid bargaining issues between the Las Cruces Transportation Federation Local No. 6341 bus drivers union and the drivers' employer, Student Transportation Specialists New Mexico, after the union's contract expired in October. The Las Cruces district contracts out bus driving duties to Student Transportation Specialists New Mexico, which is owned by DS Bus Lines.
This article originally appeared on El Paso Times: EPISD increases bus driver starting pay to $17-$18 an hour