Northwest ISD trustees increase bus driver pay in response to driver shortage

Ryder Warren headshot
Northwest ISD Superintendent Ryder Warren advocated for the pay increase at the Oct. 18 board of trustees meeting. (Bailey Lewis/Community Impact Newspaper)

Northwest ISD Superintendent Ryder Warren advocated for the pay increase at the Oct. 18 board of trustees meeting. (Bailey Lewis/Community Impact Newspaper)

As Northwest ISD continues to navigate a shortage of bus drivers, its board of trustees approved a pay increase for the district's drivers at its Oct. 18 meeting.

The board approved increasing the starting hourly rate for all NISD bus drivers from $18 an hour to $20 an hour, as well as giving all current bus drivers a $2 an hour pay increase that is retroactive to Oct. 10, according to district documents.

The decision to increase wages for drivers did not come out of nowhere. Superintendent Ryder Warren previously announced that the district was facing driver shortages in a Facebook Live update on Sept. 7. He said the district was having trouble getting kids to and from school on time and asked parents to unenroll their kids in the bus program, if possible.

Later, when the district compared NISD’s bus driver wages to those of surrounding school districts, it found “that NISD’s starting pay rate is the lowest in the area,” according to the agenda for the Oct. 18 meeting. The district also saw its applicant list shrink and began to lose drivers to other surrounding districts with higher wages.

According to district documents, Lewisville ISD and Fort Worth ISD pay bus drivers $22 an hour; Plano ISD pays $21 an hour; Denton ISD and Birdville ISD pay $20 an hour; Keller ISD pays $19.50 an hour, with a $1,000 sign-on bonus; Eagle Mountain Saginaw ISD pays $19 an hour; and Decatur ISD pays $18.50 an hour, with a $500 sign-on bonus.


“We have a challenge in our transportation department,” Warren said at the meeting. “Many of our neighboring districts are continuing to increase their pay. ... We've always said we don't have to do the very, very best—but we have to be competitive, and we think this change will definitely go a long way.”

The pay increase for bus drivers will impact the district’s fiscal year 2021-22 budget by about $247,000, according to Northwest ISD Chief Financial Officer Brian Carter. Those funds are already available in the transportation budget, Carter explained, since the district budgeted for 200 drivers and only employs 141 drivers currently.
By Bailey Lewis
Bailey Lewis covers the cities of Grapevine, Colleyville and Southlake, as well as Keller, Roanoke and northeast Fort Worth. In December 2020, she graduated from the University of Oklahoma with her Bachelor's degree in journalism. Previously, she worked and interned for various publications, such as Local Profile, the OU Daily, the Malheur Enterprise and News21. When she's not writing, she enjoys spending time with her cat and watching documentaries.