New details: DPS bus drivers’ pact has 7-14% raises, policy changes

Dayton Public Schools bus drivers transport more than 10,000 kindergarten through eighth-grade students per day to DPS’ own schools as well as charter and private schools. JEREMY P. KELLEY / STAFF
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Dayton Public Schools bus drivers transport more than 10,000 kindergarten through eighth-grade students per day to DPS’ own schools as well as charter and private schools. JEREMY P. KELLEY / STAFF

The new contract for Dayton Public Schools bus drivers includes pay raises ranging from 7 percent to almost 14 percent, retroactive to the start of this school year, and makes changes to policies on insurance, attendance, discipline and more, according to a copy of the final tentative agreement.

The drivers came within two days of a planned April 10 strike after working all school year under the terms of their previous expired contract. The new deal runs through June 2020.

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Pay was a major factor in the negotiations. Drivers had pointed out that in recent years, Dayton has paid a much lower hourly wage than surrounding districts. District officials argued that was offset somewhat by better benefits and being guaranteed a minimum of six hours per day, but the parties couldn’t reach an agreement.

The new contract increases starting pay from $13.85 per hour to $15.75 — a 13.7 percent increase, but still below the $18 that some surrounding districts pay to start. A DPS driver with five years’ experience gets a 10 percent raise to $18.26, and a driver with 9 years gets a 7 percent raise to $20.65.

The contract also increases the pay ceiling immediately, adding a new raise for drivers after 15 years, to $21.58 per hour. All of those changes are retroactive to July 1, which was a point of debate earlier in negotiations. Then drivers will get a 2 percent raise each of the next two school years.

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“We certainly appreciate all the work and improvement the employer made (to their offer) during the process, and we think it was fair deal,” said Jim Gollings, regional director of the Ohio Association of Public School Employees, which represents the drivers. Gollings said DPS drivers approved the deal by more than a 4-1 ratio, after rejecting previous tentative agreements.

DPS Superintendent Elizabeth Lolli did not responded to requests for comment on the contract details.

More contract details

** Drivers will now be listed as tardy only if they are 10 minutes late, rather than the previous six minutes. But they now must clock in and clock out for each driving assignment, and the discipline for absences/tardiness gets just a bit stricter, starting after four days (three tardies equals one day absent, and failing to call in at least an hour before the start of the shift equals an unreported absence day).

** While bad attendance is punished, good attendance is rewarded. This contract doubles the bonus for perfect attendance from $125 per quarter to $250. It increases the bonus for “excellent” attendance from $75 to $100 quarterly.

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** There were some changes to work assignment language, as drivers who cover “extended-day” or weekend assignments will be guaranteed at least two hours pay for that work. But drivers whose standard routes are less than six hours can be paid less than the six-hour minimum if they decline additional duties. Gollings said after debate, important language was retained calling for assignments to be spread among drivers to get as many of them to 40 weekly hours as possible.

** There will be four mandatory training days with pay when students are out of school, rather than the previous two optional days. In addition, drivers will receive crisis prevention and special needs training.

** The contract included a variety of changes to insurance, adding vision coverage and a $75 incentive for having an annual physical exam (with exam results not reported to the district). Gollings said the parties will attach a letter of intent to the contract to form an insurance committee to explore better health benefits and cost efficiencies.

PREVIOUSLY: Union negotiator says DPS is forcing drivers out

** Mediation was added as an option in the grievance resolution process.

** Drivers must wear the district-provided uniform shirt recommended by a dress code committee.