School bus drivers, other St. Johns County support staff to receive pay increase

The St. Johns County School District reached an agreement Tuesday with the St. Johns Educational Support Association (ESA) to increase pay for school bus drivers, custodians, teacher aides and other support staff who help keep the school system running.

The board unanimously approved the collective bargaining agreement during a school board meeting. The compensation package for the ESA totals $1.2 million.

That equals an increase of a minimum of $450 for people with 13 years of experience or less. For people with 14 years of experience, it’s about $500 more for the year.

Deputy Superintendent of Facilities and Operations Brennan Asplen said for the 2023-2024 school year bus operators and mechanics will see an increase in their starting pay.

“Bus drivers, that is a unit that we have really been working with to recruit and bring more bus drivers on board. They were making $16.65. They will now start at $17.50 per hour. Mechanics will now start at $19 per hour,” Asplen said.

Also, the sign-on bonus for bus operators will remain the same for this school year. People without a commercial driver’s license will get $1,000.

“For those that do have the CDL, it was 3,000 dollars and they would be paid after 90 days and those with the 1,000 dollar rate would be paid after 60 days,” Asplen said.

Asplen explained during the meeting that there was no change in benefits or premiums this year. Also, the contract includes the creation of a salary review committee for the district.

“We thought it was very important to look at all 14 of our salary schedules and have a committee to review that. Half of the committee would be St. Johns Educational Support Professional Association folks, the other half would be our district folks, and we’ll start that in January,” Asplen said.

As of Oct. 26, the district had a total of 80 vacancies and 61 of those positions are for bus operators.

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