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Significant pay raise will be offered to attract and retain commercial driver license holders

Thursday, Sept. 23—With a unanimous vote, the Durham Public Schools Board of Education called on Superintendent Pascal Mubenga to bring forward an hourly pay raise for DPS bus drivers starting at $17 an hour and rising to $24 an hour for a driver with 30 years of experience.

The new pay scale will be presented at the school board’s regular meeting on Thursday, Sept. 23.

“Our employees are the heart and soul of Durham Public Schools,” said Dr. Mubenga. “We are experiencing a critical shortage of bus drivers, who require commercial driver licenses and are responsible for protecting our children. These raises demonstrate our respect for the hard work our bus drivers do every day and will help DPS compete with other school districts.”

DPS administrators had shared with bus drivers and prepared for the September 9 board work session a salary increase proposal that would have focused on veteran drivers, following a March 2021 increase for all drivers, especially beginning ones. After hearing from drivers at the work session, board members committed to a higher pay scale.

“The school day can’t begin until our students arrive safe and sound at school,” said Bettina Umstead, chair of the school board. “We’re responding to the urgency of our need for bus drivers, and we’re demonstrating our commitment to competitive wages. We intend to evaluate salaries across DPS to better support all of our employees.”

DPS adopted a $15 an hour minimum living wage in January 2021.

People who want to drive a yellow bus for DPS can apply to become a bus driver at the DPS website or contact Human Resources at