PEORIA, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) — Last week, the Peoria Unified School District board approved $3.01 an hour wage increase for bus drivers in a unanimous vote last week. This comes after the district has had to condense routes, run double and triple runs that can cause delays, and even cancel routes in some rare cases. "They are a remarkable part of our team," said district spokeswoman Danielle Airey. "And without getting our students to and from school, we know they can't learn."

Airey says they are hoping to fill about 20 openings. "So for our entry-level drivers that are just starting out with us, they will be coming in at $17 an hour. That makes us the highest from our peer districts across the northwest Valley," she said.

Heather Rooks went to elementary school in Peoria and now has four kids in the district. "It's so surreal because I grew up here and my husband grew up here in this district, so it's just so exciting for our kids," she told Arizona's Family on Monday. Rooks felt compelled to go to last week's board meeting in support of the drivers because she feels like the raise is long overdue and was happy the decision was made. "It's not just field trips, it's bus drivers for routes, it's special education buses with special education assistants," Rook said. "I mean, that's a huge, huge responsibility."

School bus

Airey says there are roughly 37,000 students in the district and about 12,000 of them rely on the transportation department.

Airey says there are roughly 37,000 students in the district and about 12,000 of them rely on the transportation department. While the school bus driver shortage is a national issue, she says the district is at a "critical point" and has been looking at ways to increase wages for support staff. She says they also approved stipends last month.

Meanwhile, last month the Dysart Unified School District also started offering more money to bus drivers. In an email last week, spokeswoman Renee Ryon told Arizona's Family they saw a significant number of applicants and they believe they will be fully-staffed very soon. Here is where you can apply in Peoria Unified


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