By Lauren DeMaria
Gabriel Arana, a full-time school bus driver for the Garden Grove Unified School District, says he feels underappreciated because truck drivers are paid more than the people who are responsible for transporting kids safely to and from school.
“We are responsible for kids’ lives, yet we are paid less than workers who deliver milk and food,” said Arana during public comments at the Oct. 5th meeting of the GGUSD Board of Education. “Our morale is at an all-time low.”
During the Oct. 5 and Oct. 19 GGUSD board meetings, a large group of bus drivers gathered and spoke publicly about being excluded from the Sept. 1 Personnel Commission’s recommendation to dramatically increase the pay of select positions from the Transportation Department.
The recommended changes to the salary range for those five employees would be:
- School Bus Driver Instructor: a 5 percent salary increase based on a compensation study
- School Bus Driver Instructor Supervisor: a 35 percent salary increase based on a compensation study
- Transportation Dispatch Supervisors: a 35 percent salary increase based on a compensation study, according to a document provided by the CSEA (California School Employees Association) local union.
Bus drivers told the board that during the COVID pandemic their jobs got much tougher with much less money.
“We don’t overlook employee concerns, so rest assured that when we discuss contracts, we look at everything, and we bring up all the issues that you do bring to the board,” said board member Dina Nguyen.
The board has not approved the recommended salary increase for the supervisors and dispatchers yet, but it hasn’t denied it either.
“The board and district leaders value the tremendous contributions of our bus drivers and their steadfast commitment to our students. The district is grateful for their many contributions including all they have done to ensure students can enjoy a safe ride to and from school each day,” said Public Information Officer Abby Broyles.
The district will consider utilizing an outside consultant to conduct a study about possibly revising the recommended changes, which was discussed at a special meeting of the GGUSD Personnel Commission special meeting on Wednesday (today). The commission took no formal action on the issues.
The GGUSD is a K-12 district serving most of Garden Grove and portions of Anaheim, Cypress, Fountain Valley, Santa Ana, Stanton, and Westminster.