Hays CISD hikes pay to cover bus driver, custodian shortage

A shortage in support staff, which includes 45 bus drivers, eight custodians and six crossing guards, hasHays CISD scrambling to fill those positions.

Carter Scherff, Hays CISD chief operations officer, said in an emailed response that the district hopes increasing support staff starting salaries across the board could attract new employees.

Scherff said the district increased the starting bus driver salary from $14.25 per hour to $16.

To make sure every student is picked up, even with a shortage of bus drivers, the transportation department’s operation staff steps in to fill the vacancies.

“Almost every employee in the transportation department, the mechanics, director, everybody, has their CDL (commercial driver’s license),” Scherff said. “What they do is they drive a route, and then they do their real work.  It is very exhaustive for our folks in transportation,” Scherff said.

Custodian salaries will go from $9.54 per hour to $10.50 per hour, Scherff said. 

The district instituted a retention incentive for the custodial staff of $500 for every year employed with the district. The incentive is paid biannually, with employees receiving $250 in September, then again in January.

The district pays 100 percent of the health insurance for every custodian, not including spouse or children, he said.  

“Our board is committed to compensating our employees fairly.”

But for the custodial staff, the shortage means working harder and longer hours.

“(By) working overtime here and there, having folks helping out centrally (central office), we can make sure things don’t fall apart on us,” Scherff said.

Scherff said it was up to the schools to cover crossing guards. Individual campuses interview and make the ultimate recommendations for crossing guard hires.

He said most likely gaps in crossing guards were filled by the school staff.

Rebecca Leonard, assistant principal at Susie Fuentes Elementary, said they do not have any shortages in crossing guards.

However, when a shortage comes up, a teacher in a “non-teaching position” would take on the responsibility.

Cafeteria monitors would be ideal persons to take the crossing guard position, Scherff said.  

“We are going to make a concerted effort to have those folks take those jobs,” Scherff said.  

He added a survey is done of comparable school districts to determine market rate for wages.

Scherff believes the district’s shortage in positions is due to the economy. However, he said the state’s overall unemployment rate is “exceptionally low.”

When it comes to bus drivers and custodians, Scherff said the district is “competing with everyone in the community.”

He said that Amazon and Walmart are competitors for people to fill these positions.  

“There are a lot of jobs and people can be a little bit pickier about what they do,” Scheff said.

Brenda Alfred, a spokesperson for Amazon, directed the Hays Free Press to the company’s website for entry-level hourly work in the area.

According to Amazon’s website, the lowest hourly rate found at Amazon’s San Marcos Fulfillment Center was $12 for a full time warehouse associate.

Walmart’s corporate office did not respond to request for salary information.

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