The Commercial Appeal

Shelby County to raise bus monitor pay to $15 minimum

- Katherine Burgess

Shelby County Government is about to raise its last group of employees to a living wage of $15 per hour, with commission­ers poised to approve an increase in pay for bus monitors Monday.

The pay increase will apply to about 160 bus monitors who have been receiving just $12 an hour, said Jerri Green, senior policy adviser to County Mayor Lee Harris.

“Statistics show that it is important for children and others traveling on the road that we recruit and retain dedicated bus monitors,” Green said. “The good news is we can do this while addressing inequity and poverty simply by providing these employees a living wage. After a year of work it is exciting to see this proposal move forward.”

The $140,000 needed to increase those wages will come from the county’s general fund balance and will be distribute­d across the county’s school systems based on average daily attendance. Memphis-shelby County Schools will match the county government’s contributi­on.

Increasing the hourly wage to at least $15 an hour has long been an initiative of Harris’ administra­tion.

In 2018, the minimum wage for fulltime county employees was raised to $15. However, the process of raising wages for employees who don’t report directly to county government — such as cafeteria workers and bus monitors — has been ongoing until now.

“Bus monitors are critical for our children’s safety and wellbeing,” Harris said. “They help make sure our students get to school safely and the safety of our children is the highest priority. Also, it also goes without saying, it has always been a focus of our work to make sure more people in Shelby County make a living wage of at least $15 an hour. Bus monitors are currently the only group working with our schoolaged children to make less than that, so the commitment to ensure bus monitors make $15 an hour is matter of justice and basic fairness.”

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