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Plum School Board approves pay hike for bus drivers

| Wednesday, Sept. 4, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

The Plum School District has increased pay rates for bus drivers and added seven vehicles to its fleet.

The pay raises are aimed at recruiting more drivers, said bus driver Donna Meanor, president of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1595.

The Plum School Board during its meeting last week voted to approve raising the top pay for bus drivers from $16.91 an hour to $17 an hour, Meanor said.

Meanor also said new drivers will be paid $16 an hour.

Previously, new drivers were paid a percentage of the $16.91 an hour rate until they worked for 36 months.

Also, bus aides — those who assist children with special needs — got a bump in pay from $8.83 an hour to $12 an hour, Meanor said. Substitute aides will be paid $11.83 an hour.

Meanor said she, Superintendent Timothy Glasspool and transportation manager Scott Mergen on the first day of classes — Aug. 26 — worked on the rates that the board approved during the Aug. 27 meeting.

“We need drivers really, really bad,” Meanor said.

“We had to figure out what would be comparable (pay rates in other districts) to get people into the district.”

Mergen in July told board members he was 10 to 12 drivers short because of retirements and resignations.

Mergen said he was working on recruiting drivers to avoid having to outsource some of the routes to a private company.

District business manager Eugene Marraccini said last week that eight routes currently are being outsourced.

The drivers who resigned made the decision based upon the $4.23 an hour wage cut for the 2013-14 school year, Mergen said.

Members of the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1595 that represents the district's bus drivers, mechanics and aides earlier this year voted to accept a three-year contract that called for a wage freeze in the 2012-13 school year, a $4.23 an hour wage cut in the second year and an 8-cent-an-hour increase in the third year.

“We did what we have to do,” Meanor said.

“Hopefully, it will work. It could take a couple months. Hopefully, the drivers who resigned will consider coming back.”

Anyone interested in applying for a bus driver or aide job should send a letter of interest and resume to: Plum Borough School District, Attention: Lori Demetrio, 900 Elicker Road, Plum, PA 15239.

Marraccini also said during a recent transportation-committee meeting that the department purchased seven buses that are 10 years old and are replacing ones that are 15 to 17 years old.

Marraccini said the department spent $105,000.

The district had budgeted $300,000 for buses.

“We are still looking for three 30-passenger and one 40-passenger bus,” Marraccini said.

Karen Zapf is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-856-7400 ext. 8753 or kzapf@tribweb.com.

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