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New Response Plan Addresses Cumberland Bus Drivers' Complaints

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CUMBERLAND COUNTY — When your child gets on the bus, you hope the bus driver's primary concern is student safety. In Cumberland County, drivers are also worried about theirownsafety, and their pay. A new plan is in place to address some of these concerns.

The school system has announced a five-step response plan to address bus drivers' complaints. Both sides are hoping the plan will lead to a better ride for their precious cargo.

Dorothy Valesquez chooses to pick her son up from elementary school even though he is eligible to ride the bus.

"I don't feel like it's safe," said Valesquez.

Bus drivers have safety concerns as well. Cumberland School System leaders have heard their fears. They are hoping a better and more consistent communication will resolve safety issues as well as other complaints like their pay.

"Instead of going to neighbors, talking to them and have it festering, let's go through the proper procedures. Come to us, and let's address this as best we can," said Director of Transportation Philip Mullen.

In what they are calling a five-point response plan, school leaders vow to meet more often with School Bus Drivers Association leaders and provide swift investigation of all allegations that arise. The president of the association is encouraged.

"We feel like this will help solve some of them instead of thinking about salary and other problems facing us," said bus driver Betty Evers.

Bus drivers have also made repeated requests for adult monitors and cell phones on their buses, so they can alert authorities when there is a problem.

The additional phones are planned for next year's budget. Parents say any improvements are welcome.

For years, Cumberland County bus drivers have received newsletters with their paychecks. Leaders say they may also expand on the issues that are discussed in them.

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Melissa Buscher, Reporter
Michael Joyner, Photographer
John Clark, Web Editor

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