This is in response to the May 24 letter from Christina May, who said she was trained for school bus driving in another school district and not in Columbia County.
May does not understand that according to Georgia state law, a driver must be observed by a certified trainer while driving, not by a regular driver. Columbia County only has two certified trainers, and one never leaves the transportation office. May said she rode with another regular driver prior to driving a bus on her own. What May fails to let the readers know is that for the last school year she was a receptionist in the transportation office, and only came out to drive during the last month of school. ...
I agree with May in stating that Columbia County school bus drivers are very professional, but I disagree that the transportation office gives enough training for drivers. I ask May to reserve her judgement until she has been a route driver for at least one year, and not a receptionist in the office.
As far as Superintendent Tommy Price's comments in the May 29 article, "Panel compares salaries, seeks more school funds": he needs to look at all of the figures before making a comment. The school bus drivers in Columbia County receive state pay of $713.40 a month, just like every county in the state of Georgia. We are guaranteed a minimum of 3 hours a day, which is an hourly rate of $14.76. That makes the school bus drivers the highest hourly paid employees in the county, but we also work the least amount of hours.
Most driver pay comes from the state not the County. Richmond County gets $10 to $13 per hour for route pay, but they are guaranteed 5 to 7 hours per day. Richmond County and other counties get route pay for field trips. Columbia County school bus drivers receive $7.49 per hour for field trips. This year drivers were required to sign a waiver stating that they would voluntarily take as overtime pay $7.49 per hour; the law states that an average of hourly rates is time and a half for overtime pay. If the drivers did not sign the waiver they were not allowed to do field trips. I don't call that voluntary; I call that a wage and hour violation.
We have three different pay scales in Columbia County, as opposed to most counties having only one. Columbia County bus drivers are the only group in the system that has three pay scales. Compare the annual salaries of school bus drivers in Columbia County to other counties and you will see it is far from being "paid better than most in the state," as Price said. Try figuring what you are being paid and it becomes quite an accomplishment.
As always, you can count on the Columbia County school bus drivers to look out for the safety of the children in this county, no matter how much disrespect is placed on them.
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