Killeen: Bus drivers' grievance on pay, conditions denied during meeting

KILLEEN, Texas (KWTX) Bus drivers with Killeen Independent School District packed inside district headquarters Tuesday night to voice their concerns on pay and work conditions.

They were hoping to get a grievance, which was denied two times due to not being made in a 'timely manner,' overturned and have board members agree to look at their concerns.

Johnnie Williams, a bus driver for seven years with the district, says having a livable wage is a concern.

“We have people leaving the district because of pay. They can't afford health insurance...they have to feed their families,” he said.

During Tuesday’s meeting, board members heard from the Killeen Education Association.

A big concern amongst drivers: higher pay. Drivers want an extra $3 per hour. The district says drivers are making more than $18 per hour, currently through incentives which includes safe driving and being at work.

“If they have a good work record, good safety record, they get a $3 an hour raise. In fact, we have 156 bus drivers who already have that $3 an hour raise, they are getting paid more than $18 an hour. That’s way more than any other district, way more,” KISD spokesman Terry Abbott said.

Those in attendance believe that higher pay will help attract more drivers. They also described issues with driving double routes due to the shortage.

School officials have said the grievance – signed by 33 drivers -- was not filed in a timely manner. Even though board members also made the same ruling, Board President Corbett Lawler vowed to keep the conversation going and addressing the concerns.

After the decision was made, drivers still remain optimistic about increasing pay and having their issues addressed.

“Very encouraging to hear that the board committed themselves to not only accepting that there were issues beyond pay, which was the main thrust of our argument in the first place, but also that they were willing to include us in the process,” said Rick Beaule, president of Killeen Educators Association.

Killeen ISD says they are still actively searching to fill the vacant bus driver spots. In February, the number of vacant spots was at 70.