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Wake School Bus Situation Remains Unsettled

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RALEIGH — Technically, Wake County school bus driversarenoton strike. Many of them just happened to be sick.

Dozens of drivers staged a sick-out Monday afternoon, stranding students across the county and disrupting literally hundreds of lives.

Wake County school leaders talked to reporters, including WRAL-TV5'sEducation ReporterYvonne SimonsMonday afternoon. Theysaid the events which led up to the bus drivers' so-called "yellow flu"walkout are part misunderstanding and part incorrect assumptionsabout their efforts to recruit new drivers to fill 35 vacancies that stillexist.

Wake County School Superintendent Dr. Jim Surratt says he wants alldrivers to comeback and be on their buses Tuesday morning to transport children toschool. He said they need have no fear that they willpaid less than new recruits or that they will suffer repercussions fromMonday's action.

About 300 Wake Forest-Rolesville Middle School students boarded busesMonday afternoon, but no drivers joined them. Across Wake County at least37 drivers called in sick due to a dispute over wages.

Surratt said the dispute is over.

Drivers had taken issue with an advertisement placed in the SundayNews & Observerthat offered $10 per hour in wages to newrecruit. That amount is more than many veteran drivers earn. SchoolTransportation Director Dr. Wyatt Harper told reporters the problem ofrecruiting new drivers still exists, but says that was not the way to goabout it.

Dr. Harper made it clear that administrators now think the $10 per houroffer was a mistake, and that the offer has been rescinded. Anyonestarting as a new bus driver for Wake County schools will start at a rateof $7.67 per hour.

The story is still very fluid, and continues to change by the hour.As of 6 p.m. Monday, some Wake County Bus drivers were staging a sick-out and say they are not on strike.

The informal action affected almost every school in Wake County.WRAL-TV5 and WRAL OnLine will continue to bring you the latest informationas it develops.

Photographer:Ron Pittman

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