Superintendent’s message about bus driver shortage

Current driver hourly pay rates in comparison to neighboring districts:

Current driver hourly pay rates in comparison to neighboring districts:

First and foremost, I apologize for the impact that the bus driver shortage has had on our Eatonville students and families. The Eatonville School District is diligently working to address this issue, as is almost every other school district in Washington. Despite our extensive efforts, we still find ourselves lacking sufficient bus drivers to cover all routes, resulting in route cancellations and rerouting efforts. However, our determination remains unwavering and we are committed to finding viable solutions to alleviate this problem.

I am asking for your help. I will be hosting a Community Transportation Forum on Wednesday, Sept. 20, at 6 p.m. in the Eatonville High School Auditorium. Together, we can brainstorm strategies to attract and hire more drivers and discuss ideas on how to minimize the impact of the bus driver shortage on parents and students.

Jay Brower


I want to emphasize that your concerns have not gone unnoticed, and I can only imagine the significant impact that this transportation challenge has had on you. I eagerly anticipate the opportunity to engage with you and collaborate on resolving this crisis. I look forward to seeing you at the forum and hearing your ideas. To get us started, I have included a list of the steps that Eatonville School District has taken over the past year in an attempt to mitigate this crisis.

Steps that Eatonville School District has taken in the past year to mitigate the crisis:

• Currently exploring an opportunity to offer free supervision before school, and after school at all three Elementary School locations when a regular route has been canceled. This may include supervision for both high school and middle school students at Eatonville Elementary. Implementing a $3,000 hiring bonus for new hires possessing a CDL, and a $2,500 hiring bonus for new hires who earn their CDL.

• Advertising for open Bus Driver positions on the district website and social media, district newsletters, Eatonville Dispatch, and JBLM newspaper.

• Implementing a kiosk in the District Office where applicants can come in, use a district computer, and have access to assistance in completing an employment application.

• Following up with potential leads for bus driver employment.

• Free before and after-school supervision has been put in place for early drop off at Weyerhaeuser Elementary when there is a cancellation.

• Entertaining a staggered start time at Weyerhaeuser Elementary.

• Offering stipends for drivers that are willing to take on other runs to support a rotation so the same routes were not canceled each time.

• Offering attendance incentive to encourage driver attendance.

• District Bus Discipline procedures were reviewed and updated with the input of bus drivers.

• Advertising the hiring bonus and handing out flyers at the 4th of July Parade.

• Setting up a booth at Community Day advertising open bus driver positions and the hiring bonus in an attempt to recruit potential drivers.

• Effective Sept. 1: Drivers received a $1 per hour across the board raise in each salary step along with a 4.7% raise to all PSE Union Members.

Longevity incentive:

• 4% increase between Step 4 to 5 (Years 16-20) - previously 3% increase between lanes

• 4% increase between step 5 to 6 (Years 21-25) - previously 3% increase between lanes

• 4% increase between step 6 to 7 (Years 26+) - previously 3% increase between lanes

• All drivers who work a minimum of 3.5 hours a day (which includes all current drivers) get full benefits and a $10 per month Contribution to their VEBA Accounts plus other contract benefits.


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