Loretta Kirkland has driven a school bus for 21 years but she's calling it quits at the end of school this year.
"I'm getting the message we are not important," said Kirkland.
She is not alone. As head of the school bus drivers association, Kirkland said a lot of the men and women who drive these buses are fed up with being taken for granted.
"They are discouraged," she said. "They are disillusioned and they are disgusted."
Kirkland said the driver's hourly pay is the main issue. It's supposed to be determined by years of service, but many drivers like Thomas Fulmore said they are being short-changed.
"When I worked once, when you got trained and qualified you got top pay," said Fulmore. "It's not that here."
Right now, Cumberland County school bus drivers average $11.69 an hour, which is a little less than the North Carolina state average, and well below the national average of over $13 an hour.
"We do consider them having a very important job," said Cumberland County School Superintendent Dr. Frank Till.
Till said no one is getting a raise in the tough economic times.
"A pay raise aside, maybe we didn't appreciate them as much as we should," said Till. "And in these tough economic times, maybe there was some little things we could do to say they are more important."
School bus drivers here said they aren't asking for special treatment. They just want to be treated fairly.
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