School Board votes to change summer bidding process for bus drivers and monitors, freeing up employee raises
TAVARES – Voicing concern for the safety of special education students on school buses, the Lake County School Board has voted to approve a change in how bus drivers and bus monitors can apply for summer jobs working with those students.
The vote frees up service workers’ raises that have been on hold since July 2015. The increase will appear on paychecks once the union ratifies the contract and it is approved by the board.
Previously, bus drivers and bus monitors, who assist the drivers with special education students, could apply to work in either capacity during the summer and the jobs are awarded based on seniority. Now, bus drivers will be considered for bus driver jobs based on seniority and bus monitors, who work with special education students during the regular school year, will be considered for summer jobs that allow them to continue to working with the same types of students. Those jobs, too, would still be awarded based on seniority.
The decision was made in a 3-2 vote Monday, May 23, as part of a public hearing on a Special Magistrate’s recommended decision in the impasse proceeding between the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and the district. School Board members Marc Dodd and Stephanie Luke voted against the change.
James J. Brady, Special Magistrate, recommended that drivers and bus monitors be able to openly bid for transportation positions based on district seniority for summer work, regardless of the specific jobs they held during the school year. The district filed a rejection of the special magistrate’s decision with the Public Employees Relations Commission on May 3.
Superintendent Susan Moxley, Ed.D., asked the School Board to accept the district’s position on the issue allowing bus drivers to bid by seniority to drive summer routes and bus monitors to bid by seniority to assist on summer special education routes. The district believes that this approach recognizes employee seniority by position while also better meeting the needs of students with significant disabilities by allowing bus monitors most familiar with the students to continue working with them during the shorter summer term.
The disagreement between the district and the SEIU, which represents bus drivers, bus monitors and other service workers, created an impasse that stalled ratification of a new contract for the employees since last summer and, thus, stalled raises for service workers as well.
To speed up the process, the district late last year offered to bypass the Special Magistrate hearing and go directly to the School Board for a decision, but the SEIU rejected that proposal. Brady heard the case on March 12, 2016, and issued a recommendation on April 15, 2016. The School Board was charged with making the final decision.