Two-thirds of Wake County buses run as drivers protest low wages, working conditions

School Watch

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Wake County bus drivers took a stand Friday to protest what they feel is unfair wages for the amount of work they do to get students to and from school.

While it was confirmed two-thirds of all buses ran in Wake County, Communications Director Lisa Luten said students and routes will likely still be affected Monday.

Officials asked families to plan for the possibility on Monday.

“As you know, bus service was not available to many of our students this morning and will not be available this afternoon. The root cause is one that all of us understand. The pay and salary structure for the work we do is not adequate,” a letter from Superintendent Cathy Moore and Chair Keith Sutton to staff said.

The absence of drivers left 200 buses off routes on Friday.

While two-thirds of them took kids to school, many students remained absent due to the lack of transportation.

“Today our bus drivers shone a harsh light on this reality. Many of them are expected to drive up to six routes a day – twice the amount considered normal – with no additional pay,” Moore and Sutton’s letter said. “Our school board will vote Tuesday on a recognition and retention bonus of $1,250 for every employee. This is just the first step toward recognizing your work and efforts to date.”

The Wake County School Board said in addition to a measure on retention bonuses, additional periodic bonus payments are likely this year and into the next academic year. The letter from Moore and Sutton also said the $1,250 number “is possible.”

“In the meantime, the school board and district leadership will continue to work on long-term solutions. This will require the help of state and local governments, where almost all of our money comes from,” the letter read.

District officials were warned of the driver shortage and Wake officials told parents to prepare.

CBS 17’s Emani Payne contributed to this article.

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