NASH COUNTY, N.C. — All teacher's assistants in the Rocky Mount-Nash County school system are required to have a bus license, but the ones who actually drive say they are not being fairly compensated for it.
Carol Kunkel drives the school bus every afternoon. During the day, she is in the classroom as an teacher's assistant. She used to get paid a little extra to pull double duty, but this school year, that policy was stopped.
"Devastating, I mean that was our budgeted income," she said.
Before Kunkel got paid for 7.5 hours of classroom time and at least 3 hours a day to drive, now dual employees in Nash County are limited to 40 hours a week.
"You've got to worry about buying groceries and I have two children. I have a daughter who is [about] to have braces. Where are you going to get your money from," assistant teacher/bus driver Cynthia Pendergast said.
George Norris, superintendent of Nash-Rocky Mount schools, said there were simply too many people scheduled to work more than 40 hours a week. They had to cut back hours under the Fair Labor Standards Act.
"Obviously, we're taking some heat on this, but I think we've done the right thing and sometimes the right thing isn't the popular thing," said Dr. George Norris, superintendent of Nash-Rocky Mount schools.
School board member Doneva Chavis hopes to find a way to pay some employees overtime.
"No, it won't make everyone happy, but it does first satisfy the laws and at the same time, we're still working to try to compensate the desires of some of our teachers and bus drivers," she said.