Spring ISD bus driver Spring ISD bus driver Andrea Crafton prepares to pull out of the district's transportation lot.[/caption]

The Spring ISD board of trustees approved an increase in bus driver salaries as part of its campaign to recruit new drivers for the 2017-18 school year.

The hourly wage for bus drivers will increase from $15.12 to $16.50 this month.

Additional bus drivers are needed because the district will purchase 60 new buses with funds from the $330 million bond referendum passed by voters last year. The buses will allow the district to expand the number of students it buses to school. Previously, students within 1.5 miles of their respective schools received bus service. Beginning in the next school year, an expansion of students within 1 mile will be bused in—an increase of about 5,000 students, SISD Chief Operations Officer Mark Miranda said.

“We made a commitment to our community that we would move quickly to implement the transportation piece of the bond referendum in time for the next school year,” Miranda said. “This pay increase, making it one of the highest starting salaries in the area, will help us be competitive and ensure we have the best possible drivers transporting our students.”

Additional benefits include cutting drivers’ daycare fees in half at the transportation department’s on-site daycare center. Current drivers will also receive the pay increase.

The district will hold a transportation job fair from 9 a.m.-noon, Feb. 23 at the Transportation Center, 341 East Richey Road, Houston. No previous experience is required to apply for the jobs, but individuals should enjoy working with children and have a good driving record.

SISD Director of Transportation Keith Kaup said the responsibilities of bus drivers are different from those of other commercial drivers.

"There’s a big difference between the cargo that the driver is carrying," Kaup said. "It’s not boxes and other items—it's children. The bus driver needs to have a full commitment to their safety."

Applicants should bring their Texas driver’s license, Social Security card and three reference numbers to the job fair. For more information, call 281-891-6490.