WAKE COUNTY, N.C. – On Friday, school bus drivers went on strike in Wake County. They were protesting low wages, long hours and staffing shortages.
Two hundred out of the 600 school buses did not run their routes Friday morning, according to the Wake County Public School System, and that left parents scrambling to find other ways to get their kids to school.
What You Need To Know
Hundreds of Wake County school bus drivers went on strike Friday
They were protesting low wages, long hours and staffing shortages
The strike caused issues with kids getting to school and long lines of cars at schools
The county’s superintendent said the issues related to driver pay should be addressed at a school board meeting Tuesday
LaPrecious Byrom is a Wake County parent with a son who goes to Penny Road Elementary School in Cary. She said the situation with school buses is especially challenging as a single mom.
“My initial reaction was, ‘Oh my gosh.’ I’m so glad I’m off work today,” Byrom said. “My heart goes out to the bus drivers as well as the bus monitors. The reason why they are on strike is because of low wages.”
Byrom’s son, Caden, is 7 years old and has autism.
“He is missing socialization with his peers, academics. My son has a feeding team that comes out to help him eat as well as speech therapy and occupational therapy,” Byrom said.
Byrom works from home and doesn’t have her own car, so she usually has to ask her mom for help on days like Friday.
“I feel so terrible when days like this happen and my mom is like, 'OK. I have to reschedule.' Just so I can stay at work and gain income to support my son,” Byrom said.
The situation is causing a lot of uncertainty for families who rely on the bus and she hopes it changes sooner rather than later.
“It is very important to have this transportation for us to just keep our daily life going,” Byrom said.
Wake County Superintendent Cathy Moore sent out a letter to staff on Friday. The letter said, “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. Similar stories can be told about our safety assistants, Child Nutrition Staff, mechanics, custodians, instructional assistants and all support staff.
The letter also said, “I fully expect the school board conversation Tuesday will address ways that employees can be paid more for future work. For example, additional pay for additional bus routes will be discussed. So will additional compensation for extra teaching duties.”