Local News

Some Wake School Bus Drivers Calling In Sick

Posted September 29, 1997 12:00 a.m. EDT

— Even though Wake County school officials decided not to go forward with a controversial plan to pay new drivers more than some more experienced ones, dozens of drivers staged a "sick-out" Monday afternoon, stranding some students at schools.

Drivers called in sick to Durant Middle, Carthage Middle, Swift Creek Elementary, Creech Elementary and Wake Forest-Rolesville Middle schools, and many more -- more than 10 percent of all drivers.

Some parents sent e-mail to WRAL OnLine saying schools had notified them their children would not be bused home from school Monday afternoon.

School officials said the "sick-out" was the result of misunderstandings and mistaken assumptions by drivers. Wake schools Superintendent Jim Surratt said that new drivers would not be paid more than experienced bus drivers. He urged all drivers to report for work Tuesday morning and not fear reprisals for reporting sick on Monday.

Drivers showed up for work Monday morning before the decision was made to scrap the pay plan that would have paid news drivers $10 an hour, more than some drivers with several years of experience are making.

There had been the threat of a strike if veteran drivers did not receive some compensation increase to even the playing field with new recruits. After they made the decision not to pay new drivers more, school officials had hoped to avert the possibility of a strike.

Wake County has about 750 bus drivers, and school officials says they will try to call all of those drivers to allay concerns and encourage them to report for duty Tuesday.