‘I sympathize with the drivers’ – Despite the inconvenience, some understand motive behind WCPSS bus driver protest

Wake County News

CARY, N.C. (WNCN) – Wake County Schools told parents to prepare a backup plan for getting kids to school Friday. The district said there some drivers warned them of a disruption in order to bring attention to working conditions and pay.

WCPSS said there may be an increase in bus driver absences.

One bus driver, who did not want to speak publicly, told CBS 17 she felt overwhelmed, underappreciated, and underpaid, which is why she won’t be going in to work.

Another bus driver, Zachary Campbell, said he went from two routes pre-pandemic to seven routes this year. Now he has to sanitize between each route, enforce mask-wearing, and drive longer.

He said drivers deserve a raise to show for it.

“We just kind of overall don’t feel very much supported by the school system,” Campbell said.

Campbell said he will be showing up to work Friday, but does know of other drivers staging a “sick-out.” He said he supports their right to do so but does not believe it’s the best way for drivers to get what they want.

“We need something right now, but we also need to get more bus drivers in we need higher pay,” Campbell said.

According to the district, bus driver pay ranges from $15 to $23.37 an hour. As of September, the district had more than 100 bus driver vacancies.

Thomas Korva, a grandparent of a kindergartener who rides the bus in Wake County, said he’s prepared to drive his granddaughter if necessary.

“I can sympathize with the drivers. Things are rough. People have to get better pay,” Korva said.

Last month, the Durham school board voted to raise bus driver pay in hopes of addressing staffing shortages. WCPSS school board member James Martin said a proposal addressing pay issues for all employees is likely to come up at Tuesday’s board meeting.

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