ST. CLOUD - The St. Cloud area school district approved a two year salary increase for school bus drivers on Wednesday night.

The settlement calls for a 2.9 percent salary increase in the first year and a new starting rate of pay of $14.00 an hour. It's a jump from $12.50 an hour. Year two would also call for a 2.9 percent salary increase and new starting rate of $15.50 an hour.

The settlement includes a one-time pay of $500 for employees with 10 or more years of service.

During a short presentation to the board, district executive director of human resources Tracy Flynn Bowe said the contract settlement will make it easier for the district to hire drivers.

“We’ve had a tremendous difficulty recruiting bus drivers this year. There have been openings the entire year."

Last fall, the district was having difficulty hiring bus drivers. There are around 9,000 students that the district buses to and from school every day.