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Southeast Mo. school bus drivers push back on pay cuts

Published: Jul. 26, 2021 at 10:12 PM CDT
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East Prairie, Mo. (KFVS) - Southeast Missouri school bus drivers say the school district is taking a wrong turn after making pay cuts to their salaries.

Some drivers voiced their frustrations with the school board on Monday night, July 26.

“Only when you sit behind the wheel, glancing back at the faces/lives you are responsible for can you comprehend what our license means,” said Brooke Silman, East Prairie bus driver.

Silman and other school bus drivers with East Prairie Schools gathered at Monday night’s board meeting, pleading with board members to reverse the decision to cut their salaries.

“The overall average to this cut is nearly 30 percent,” Silman said

School officials said the pay cuts vary from employee to employee and only exclusively to the district’s transportation department.

One bus driver said in a statement, in part: “Drivers were making between $18,000 - $25,000 annually. The highest paid driver would lose approximately $50/ week or $2,000 a year.”

Silman explained the job affects the workers and students.

“We are not just bus drivers to the students and their families. They value the smile, the genuine concern, and knowing that they will not just be put out at a stop without ensuring an adult is present to greet them,” Silman said.

Superintendent Aaron Cornman said the decision was made after it was discovered transportation workers were paid more than other full-time employees in other departments.

“In essence there was a pay cut to those employees in that subgroup, yet understanding they were making substantially more than some other employees that were fulltime employees,” Cornman said.

He doesn’t think the school board will reverse the decision.

“At this time, I don’t know if the board will go back and change that decision, but on behalf of the board it’s a tough decision. We don’t want and they do not want employees, especially in thee tough economic time to have their salary reduced,” Cornman said.

Experienced drivers we talked to said they are seeing almost half of what they made at one point, and hope things don’t stay this way for long.

“The only perk was our pay,” Silman said.

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