Minimum wage raise could affect school bus drivers down the road

  • By Kelly Sullivan
  • Tuesday, December 30, 2014 10:47pm
  • News

With Alaska’s minimum wage set to increase by $1 per hour Feb. 24, an 1989 state statute may eventually lead to a significant pay increase for the Home to School bus drivers working in the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District.

State law requires public school bus driver wages to be at least twice the minimum wage.

The Kenai district would not see any changes until 2017, said school district Director of Planning & Operations Julie Cisco.

“The current contracts’ wages are not required to be adjusted until renewal, which in this case would be July 1, 2017,” Cisco said, which is the date that the school district’s transportation contract with First Student Inc. is complete. “The district will then have to look at increased transportation costs.”

Employers who have contracted with the Department of Education and Early Development, a school district or regional education attendance do not have adjust wages until entering into or renewing the contract following a change in minimum wage, according to state statute.

Ballot Measure 3 will raise minimum wage from $7.75 per hour to $8.75 per hour Feb. 24, 2015 and to $9.75 per hour Jan. 1, 2016.

The school district’s contract was with Laidlaw International Inc., prior to signing a five-year contract with First Student in 2012, said Assistant Superintendent Dave Jones.

First Student purchased and took over bussing in the district mid-contract, Jones said. First Student was chosen because it was the only company that bid on the contract when the district issued the Request for Proposals, he said.

For the 2015 fiscal year, the school district budgeted $7,793,211 for its contract with First Student, Jones said. For the 2014 fiscal year the school district paid First Student $7,140,308, he said.

Those numbers do not in clude the small number of part-time employees used for activity trips, Jones said.

Drivers directly employed by the district are subject to the statute and their wages will go up with the enactment of the new state law, Cisco said.

District employed drivers are not, however, be affected by the Kenai Peninsula Teachers and Support Staff Negotiated Agreement, Jones said.

Their wages will not be formally affected by negotiations, he said.

“Wage increases for affected employees will increase February 24, 2015, per legislation,” Jones said.

“The School Board will be asked to approve the increases on the temporary and substitute salary schedules (where our part time activity bus drivers fall) at either the January or February Board meeting.”

 

Reach Kelly Sullivan at kelly.sullivan@peninsulclarion.com.

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