Staffing Shortage Prompts $29 Per Hour Rate for Toms River School Bus Drivers

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TOMS RIVER, NJ – The Toms River Regional School District is offering $29 per hour to school bus drivers as it attempts to properly staff its fleet of school buses during an extended worker shortage across New Jersey.

School bus drivers currently earn $22 per hour, and under a recently approved motion by the Toms River School Board, the base rate will increase to $29 per hour, plus benefits. The pay raise for bus drivers also impacts substitute drivers, who will see their hourly rate go from $22 per hour to $30 per hour.

The district issued the following press release:

 At its public board meeting April 27, the Toms River School Board approved a significant increase in starting salaries in hopes of luring more bus drivers to the district, and to combat the state and national driver shortage.

The starting salary for contracted bus drivers is jumping from $22.11 an hour to $29.03 an hour effective for the 2022-2023 school year. The district is offering both six-and-a-half-hour-per day and eight-hour packages, which each include benefits.

Additionally, the rates for substitute bus drivers– which includes trip bus drivers who have been crucial for sports and student field trips– is being raised nearly five dollars an hour, from $22.50 to $27 (substitute positions, however, do not include benefits).

“We still have a lot of contracted bus drivers to replace– we anticipate more than 30– so contracts are available,” said Transportation Director Laurel Venberg. “What’s even better is that new bus drivers will receive full family benefits from Day 1, even if they don’t have all the licenses and endorsements yet.

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“This is the best package we’ve ever offered,” Venberg continued, “and I commend our board and administration for recognizing this driver shortage and making concrete efforts to solve it.”

Training is available under the new ELDT (entry level drivers training) program, which will help Toms River drivers attain the required endorsements for CDL Class B, Air Brakes, Passenger and School Bus. While drivers who need to obtain their licenses and endorsements will receive full family medical, new drivers who enter the district with the CDL with all endorsements will receive full family medical and prescription, dental, and vision coverage.