Local News

Johnston County Bus Drivers, School Officials At Odds Over Tracking Devices

Posted March 7, 2003 10:00 a.m. EST

— Tracking devices on Johnston County school buses are causing quite a rift. Several school bus drivers feel like they are being spied on, but school officials say there is a logical reason for installing the devices on buses.

"I don't think the bus drivers will have a problem with it if it's their job, you know," parent Mary Mitchell said.

School leaders want to make sure drivers are paid for the right amount of hours worked. The Johnston County school transportation department installed the Shadow Tracker, a monitoring device, in five school buses.

Through a computer, buses will be tracked by the length of routes, the number of stops made and how long each stop takes.

"We do have some folks who have abused the system and unfortunately, if you catch that and deal with it, you have to go through the process of verifying everybody," Superintendent James Causby said.

The school system is reimbursed by the state based on the number of buses and mileage of each route. The superintendent says every year that reimbursement falls short of what drivers turn in on their time sheets.

The North Carolina Association of Educators (NCAE) wants to make sure the Shadow Tracker will not force drivers to rush through their routes, endangering students on board. In a statement, NCAE spokesman Janet Stein said, "We conveyed specific concerns to Johnston County schools...and most all of those have been successfully addressed. Others are still being worked on."

"I think we have good bus drivers here that added measure would make them more accountable," former bus driver Anthony Gudac said.

Causby said time allowances will be given for drivers in special circumstances like school buses that carry children with disabilities. Right now, the Shadow Tracker has been used at Corinth Holders and North and South Johnston high schools. It will be used next at Meadow Elementary and North Johnston Middle schools.