by David Safier
Mix together the conservatives' pet stories about all the job openings our welfare-addled poor won't get off their lazy butts to take with low-wage workers' demands for a $15 an hour minimum wage and you get the Vail School District bus driver shortage story in today's Star.
Vail School District is 10 drivers short right now, which means kids are getting to school late. It sounds like a no brainer. Ten people can get steady work if they're willing to tear themselves away from their big screen TVs and smart phones. But when you read further in the article, you learn that a Vail school bus driver starts at $10.81 an hour. That's all the district pays people who are entrusted with delivering a bus filled with young children to school, then back home again with, we hope, a 100% safety record, with every child picked up at every stop in the morning and with no child left behind on the bus at the end of the day.
Superintendent Calvin Baker says the improved economy means some former drivers have left to take better paying jobs. Ya think? So the district has increased its advertising for the positions, even posting them on Facebook, and it's offering a $200 incentive to current employees who bring in a new bus driver. The new hire gets . . . the same $10.81 an hour.
I gotta be fair and recognize that Arizona school districts are strapped for cash, and robbing Peter the classroom to pay Paul the bus driver is a tough call. But paying less than $11 an hour, just a few bucks over our scandalously low minimum wage, to people to whom we entrust our children's safety? Something's wrong here.