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FWCS bus drivers get 2% pay hike

Increase part of 2-year contract OK’d by board

Bus drivers at Fort Wayne Community Schools will receive a 2 percent pay increase as part of a two-year agreement approved by the drivers’ union and the school district.

On Monday, district school officials approved a two-year agreement with Teamsters Local 141 representing the corporation’s nearly 260 bus drivers.

The 2 percent base wage increase will be applied retroactively beginning July 1, and employees will receive the additional funds on the Dec. 6 payroll, officials said.

For bus drivers with a permanent route, starting pay is $16.86 an hour, according to school district spokeswoman Krista Stockman. Substitute bus drivers are paid $11 an hour.

In addition to the wage increase, bus drivers will be paid for six hours of holiday or paid leave time, an increase from 5.5 hours of pay.

All non-probationary employees’ life insurance coverage will now be a flat $25,000 instead of a formula that provided coverage based on the employees’ wages for the year after his or her death, according to the contract.

The previous contract expired June 30.

The cost of the agreement was not discussed at Monday night’s meeting, but Stockman said later that the 2 percent pay increase is consistent with what other employee groups have received.

In August, board members approved a two-year contract that included a $1,110 base wage increase for all teachers.

Teachers who are rated effective and highly effective in their evaluations will also receive an additional stipend, according to the contract agreed upon by FWCS board members and the Fort Wayne Education Association.

Teachers will also receive the additional funds in their Dec. 6 paycheck, officials said.

Devices for students

The school board also heard an update on technology use. By learning from the mistakes of other districts and making purchases with common sense, FWCS will continue to grow a successful technology department, said Jack Byrd, district technology director

“For the most part, we’ve done a pretty good job of learning from the mistakes that others have made,” Byrd said.

Unlike other districts, he said, FWCS has taken care to provide enough devices to make sure students have the access they need, without paying thousands of dollars to get iPads and other devices into the hands of students before teachers are prepared to integrate the devices into daily lessons.

District students have access to about 12,000 desktop and laptop computers, as well as 7,000 iPads that have been acquired in the past two years, according to officials.

Byrd presented additional goals with district leaders, including a new student management system, software improvements and an upgrade for wireless and wired networks to provide better access to the Internet.

Board President Mark GiaQuinta asked Byrd to explain where the district stood on providing access to technology for students using the Goldilocks principle of too much, too little or just right.

“For a district our size with the level of support (personnel) we have, I think we’re pushing the ‘just right,’ ” Byrd said.

“We’ve been able to handle the iPads and the laptops that have been deployed. I don’t think we’d want to move any faster than we’re moving.”

The board approved the purchase of 1,194 laptop computers from Hewlett Packard Direct to provide additional stations for classrooms and computer labs.

The laptops cost $768,416 and will be paid for from the school district’s Common School Fund and the School Technology Advancement Account.

An additional $37,401 will pay for Microsoft Office licenses for teachers’ computers.