The yellow school bus is as much a symbol of the academic year as packed lunches and school uniforms.

But when the final bell rings each spring, marking the start of summer vacation, a question arises: what happens to the drivers during those long months when the buses sit idle in the parking lot?

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: most school bus drivers do receive some form of compensation over the summer months when school is not in session.

However, the details depend on the driver’s specific contract and can vary quite a bit.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll look at how school bus drivers are paid, examine the different contracts they may work under, and detail the most common pay structures during summer vacation.

We’ll also consider some of the challenges drivers face in securing stable income year-round.

Whether you’re a parent curious about your driver’s schedule, a district administrator weighing compensation packages, or a driver yourself, read on for an in-depth explainer on bus driver pay in the summertime.

Typical Contracts for School Bus Drivers

Employee vs Independent Contractor

When it comes to the contracts for school bus drivers, one of the key considerations is whether they are classified as employees or independent contractors.

In most cases, school bus drivers are classified as employees, which means they have a contract with the school district or transportation company that outlines their rights and responsibilities.

As employees, bus drivers are entitled to certain benefits, such as workers’ compensation and unemployment insurance.

They also have the protection of labor laws, including minimum wage and overtime regulations.

However, there are some instances where bus drivers may be classified as independent contractors, which means they are responsible for their own taxes and insurance.

Guaranteed Hours vs No Guarantee

Another important factor in the contracts for school bus drivers is whether they have guaranteed hours or not.

Some bus drivers have contracts that guarantee a certain number of hours per week or month, providing them with a stable income.

This can be particularly beneficial for bus drivers who rely on their income to support themselves and their families.

On the other hand, there are bus drivers who do not have guaranteed hours and their schedules may fluctuate depending on the needs of the school district or transportation company.

While this lack of guarantee can lead to some uncertainty, it may also provide more flexibility for bus drivers who prefer a more varied schedule.

12 Months vs 10 Months

The duration of the contracts for school bus drivers can also vary. Some bus drivers have contracts that cover the full 12 months of the year, including the summer months when school is not in session.

This means that these bus drivers continue to receive their regular pay and benefits even during the summer break.

On the other hand, there are bus drivers whose contracts only cover the 10 months of the school year, and they may not receive any pay or benefits during the summer months.

In such cases, bus drivers may have the option to apply for unemployment benefits or seek temporary employment during the summer to supplement their income.

It is important to note that the specific details of contracts for school bus drivers can vary depending on the school district or transportation company.

It is recommended for bus drivers to carefully review their contracts and seek clarification from their employers if they have any questions or concerns.

Additionally, for more specific information about contracts for school bus drivers in a particular region, it is advisable to consult the official website of the relevant school district or transportation department.

Common Types of Summer Pay for Bus Drivers

During the summer months, bus drivers may experience changes in their pay structure. Depending on the school district or transportation company they work for, bus drivers may receive different types of summer pay.

Here are some common types of summer pay for bus drivers:

Continued Regular Wages

Some bus drivers are fortunate enough to receive continued regular wages throughout the summer.

This means that they are paid the same amount as they would during the school year, even though they may not be actively driving the bus.

This type of summer pay provides financial stability for bus drivers and allows them to focus on other activities during their time off.

Reduced Salary

Other bus drivers may experience a reduction in their salary during the summer months. This could be due to a decrease in the number of hours they work or a change in their duties.

While this may result in a temporary decrease in income, some bus drivers may appreciate the opportunity to have a more flexible schedule or pursue other interests during the summer.

Lump Sum Payment

In certain cases, bus drivers may receive a lump sum payment at the end of the school year to compensate for the summer months.

This lump sum payment is typically calculated based on the number of days or hours worked during the school year.

While this type of payment may require budgeting and planning for bus drivers, it can provide them with a steady income during the summer.

Unpaid Time Off

Unfortunately, there are bus drivers who do not receive any form of summer pay and are required to take unpaid time off.

This means that they may need to find alternative sources of income or make financial arrangements to cover their expenses during the summer months.

It’s important for bus drivers to be aware of their pay structure and plan accordingly to ensure financial stability during the summer.

It’s worth noting that the type of summer pay bus drivers receive can vary depending on their specific employment contract and the policies of their employer.

To find out more about the summer pay structure for bus drivers in your area, it’s recommended to contact your local school district or transportation company.

Challenges of the Seasonal Schedule

Bus drivers often face unique challenges when it comes to their work schedules, particularly during the summer months. Let’s explore some of the difficulties they may encounter and how they navigate them.

Securing Summer Work

One of the main challenges bus drivers face during the summer is securing consistent employment. Many school districts reduce or suspend bus services during this time, leaving drivers without a steady source of income.

However, some districts offer summer programs or contract work that allows drivers to continue working during the break.

It’s important for bus drivers to actively seek out these opportunities and network within their industry to secure summer employment.

Budgeting Irregular Income

The irregularity of income during the summer can pose a financial challenge for bus drivers.

With fewer hours or temporary work, their paycheck may not be as consistent as during the school year.

This can make it difficult to budget and plan for expenses.

Bus drivers need to be proactive in managing their finances by creating a budget that accounts for the fluctuations in income.

They may also consider finding alternative sources of income during the summer months to supplement their earnings.

Qualifying for Unemployment

In some cases, bus drivers may be eligible for unemployment benefits during the summer break if they are unable to secure alternative employment.

However, eligibility requirements vary by state and individual circumstances.

It’s important for bus drivers to familiarize themselves with the specific criteria and regulations in their area to determine if they qualify for unemployment benefits during the summer months.

Options to Provide Year-Round Compensation

When it comes to the question of whether bus drivers get paid in the summer, there are several options that can be explored to ensure year-round compensation. Here are three common approaches:

Guaranteed 12 Month Contracts

One option for bus drivers to receive payment during the summer months is through guaranteed 12-month contracts.

This means that the bus driver would be employed and paid continuously throughout the year, regardless of whether school is in session or not.

By having a contract that covers the entire year, bus drivers can enjoy a steady income stream and financial stability.

Paid Time Off

Another way to ensure bus drivers receive compensation during the summer is by offering paid time off.

This means that bus drivers would accrue vacation days or have the option to take unpaid leave during the school year, and then use those accumulated days off during the summer months.

By providing paid time off, bus drivers can have the flexibility to take a break during the summer without worrying about their income being affected.

Year-Round Route Shifts

Some transportation departments or companies may also offer year-round route shifts to bus drivers.

Instead of solely relying on school routes, bus drivers can be assigned to different types of routes during the summer months, such as shuttle services or community transportation.

This allows bus drivers to continue working and earning a salary even when school is out. By diversifying the types of routes available, bus drivers can have a consistent source of income throughout the year.

It’s important to note that the availability of these options may vary depending on the school district or transportation company.

It’s recommended for bus drivers to check with their employers or union representatives to understand the compensation policies specific to their situation.


While school may adjourn for the season, a bus driver’s responsibilities do not simply come to an end once students are out on summer break. Securing fair compensation during the summer months can pose a real challenge.

But through guaranteed 12 month contracts, paid time off, summer route work, and other solutions, districts can provide stable income for drivers year-round.

At the end of the day, retaining qualified drivers with living wages and benefits is crucial for maintaining safe, consistent transportation services.

Assessing current contracts and exploring options for summer pay allows districts to support valuable driver staff beyond the regular academic calendar.

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