Manatee County School District announces a tentative 2 percent raise for bus drivers, AFSCME staff
BRADENTON -- After a school board meeting drew a number of upset bus drivers, clamoring over pay, the Manatee County School District on Thursday announced a tentative agreement for an across-the-board 2 percent pay increase for district support staff.
On Thursday, the district announced the agreement with the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. AFSCME represents employees from transportation, food service, vehicle maintenance, warehouse, custodial, construction and maintenance.
The announcement is not finalized until the agreement is ratified by AFSCME members and approved by the board. Officials are hoping to have the agreement ready for the board at its Oct. 14 meeting.
If approved, the raise would be retroactive to July 1.
"I am excited about the tentative agreement and the fact that it aligns with our priority of re-investing in our employees," Superintendent Rick Mills said in a statement.
This is the second year in a row that AFSCME employees have received a pay increase. Last year the district and AFSCME agreed to a 2.12 percent pay increase.
The tentative agreement includes AFSCME's endorsement of the 2015 health plans offered through Florida Blue, which were recommended by the school district's Health Insurance Committee, according to the district.
At a board meeting on Tuesday, a number of bus drivers spoke before the board, imploring the district to raise their pay.
A contingent of district bus drivers appeared asking for more pay for services provided to Manatee County students. The board employs 169 bus drivers, 65 full-time aides and 14 sub-attendants and has allocations for 22 subs. The district only has five substitutes.
Bus drivers make between $12.03 and $19.40 an hour.
"Can any of you guys live on what we bring home? We need a raise," bus driver Judy Cumpston told the board.
Cumpston asked the board not to "close their eyes and turn their backs on" the bus drivers.
The issue with bus driver pay has been ongoing for about six years, Bruce Mohr, the local AFSCME president, told the board on Tuesday. When a director of transportation retired, all the trouble started, Mohr said. Pay and benefits are common issues, but so is assigning special details, like field trips, by seniority.
"There wasn't a lot of language to work out, it basically boiled down to insurance and wages," Mohr said in a statement Thursday.
Meghin Delaney, education reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7081. Follow her on Twitter