SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – Bus drivers at Springfield Public Schools are getting another pay raise, effective immediately.

After being approved by the Board of Education Tuesday night, the wage is being boosted to $20 an hour.SPS officials said the increase has to do with the continued need to recruit and retain school bus drivers.

Deputy Superintendent of Operations, John Mulford, said the district previously paid drivers $14.50 an hour.

Then back in the summer, he said, the district temporarily increased the starting rate to $17 an hour.”It quickly became evident that it was going to be more than temporary,” Mulford said.

Now, Mulford said officials decided $20 an hour might be the best strategy.

“Our target goal is 117 drivers to return to the full transportation offering that we started the year with,” Mulford said. “Currently, we’re at 99 drivers and we have about another 10 or so that are in the process.”

He said that doesn’t take into account the extra drivers they would need if they make changes to the start times next year.

“Our goal will be to close the gap between the first and the last start time,” Mulford said. “We would like no building to start later than 9:00 this year, with the ultimate target of 8:50. Prior to this year, that was the latest any of our building started.”

Officials said they had hoped they could restore full bus service after winter break, but Mulford said right now that doesn’t look likely.

“We’ll wait and see what this new announcement on our $20 an hour starting rate does for us,” Mulford said.

To learn more about becoming a bus driver, click here.