'Many' school buses not running in Wake County as bus drivers demand better compensation

Saturday, October 30, 2021
WCPSS school bus drivers no-show Friday; Monday an uncertainty
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A significant number of Wake County school bus drivers followed through on their plan to not work Friday and could do so again Monday.

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- A significant number of Wake County school bus drivers followed through on their plan to not work Friday.

Wake County Public School System has not specifically said how many bus drivers participated in the work stoppage Friday, but there are reports of many buses not showing up on time and long lines to drop off children at schools across the county. About 200 buses, or a third of the fleet, were not running Friday.

The district's official statement released Friday morning was as follows:

"Families, Many of the school district's bus routes are not running this morning. We apologize for the inconvenience. Check your child's bus route. You will need to provide transportation this morning and make plans for this afternoon if the route is not covered. Please check social media and school websites for updates."

That same problem happened again at the end of the school day and possibly even next week. The school district warned that parents should make plans to pick up their students, if possible.

"Know that we are working to address the root causes of this issue, but for today our primary concern is to ensure student safety," the district said in a statement Friday afternoon.

WATCH: Walkout: Parents and WCPSS scramble to prepare for bus driver work stoppage

The Wake County Public School System is bracing for a possible school bus driver walkout on Friday as they demand better pay and working conditions.

Matthew Corey, a Cary parent of two students, said his son's bus to Athens Drive Hih School did show up Friday.

"I'm just disappointed that the county doesn't take care of the bus drivers, we already have a shortage," Corey said. "If they keep this up, they're going to lose the ones they have."

Corey has been driving his other son to Dillard Middle because the buses weren't getting him home until 4:30 in the afternoon

"Normally, on a good day, it's not great and today it was really backed up," Corey said of the carpool line. "The staff was doing everything they can, making it the best they can but the traffic pattern works against them

A significant number of Wake County school bus drivers followed through on their plan to not work Friday.

"If we can be inconvenienced for a couple of days, and it helps these drivers get more of what they deserve, we're for it," he added.

Chelsea Bartel, the mother of two students in the Wake County system, said she and her husband were able to flex their schedules.

"We're already considering Monday to maybe not send our kids because we both can't miss work," Bartel said. "I'm fully in support of the drivers, I'm in support of any educator wanting to do a sick out or a strike in any form because our state has been underfunding our public schools."

She said she feels fortunate because she knows many other families really had to scramble and are going to have to on Monday,

"I would really prefer if Wake County would make Monday a virtual day," Bertel said. "I think our bus drivers are being asked to do far too much and not being compensated fairly in return."

This all comes after the district warned parents Thursday about a pending school bus driver work stoppage.

The bus drivers said they are being worked to the limit without any compensation. WCPSS, as well as many other districts across the state, have reported having too few bus drivers since the start of the school year.

The districts have promoted higher wages and signing bonuses, but still the shortage persists.

Because of the shortage, some of the drivers have gone from serving two schools a day to five or six -- with no extra pay for the extra routes.

It remains to be seen whether bus drivers will continue their protest Monday.

The Wake County school board meets Tuesday and is expected to discuss the bus driver issue.