Guilford County Schools bus driver walkout called off

GUILFORD COUNTY, N.C. — Next week’s planned Guilford County bus driver walkout has been called off, according to Guilford County Association of Educators President Todd Warren.

The school district was planning for bus drivers to walk out on Monday and Tuesday.

Joshua Graham, a driver who said he helped organize the walkout, said Thursday that a meeting with Superintendent Sharon Contreras led to the cancellation.

“I think if we had a fair funding formula it would address the building issues, it would address the salaries of our employees, it would address making sure we have adequate staff and adequate support staff,” Conteras said.

Graham said the district and drivers worked toward solutions that made drivers happy but did not say what was discussed.

146 bus drivers requested Monday and/or Tuesday of next week off, according to Angie Henry, the CFO with Guilford County Schools.

Guilford County Schools denied requests.

Two bus drivers FOX8 spoke with on Monday said they were not going to come to work despite the requests being denied.

“We do supplement the pay but we are unable to do that without additional funds from the Guilford County board of County commissioners because we have no taxing authority so the only way we can provide supplemental pay is through the county,” Conteras said.

The drivers say they want a $15 starting salary and a roughly $2 raise for existing employees.

“Our bus drivers give so much to students even though they make so little some of them feed students. They’re giving them clothing,” Contreras said.

Driver Sonny Gill said he planned to come to work Monday, but understood the frustration some drivers faced.

“They have to do what they feel is right in their hearts. I’m going to work because I feel like that’s right in my heart,” he said.

He added that some drivers were frustrated that the planned walkout was called a “breach of trust” by district staff.

“When teachers went down and did their protest in Raleigh and shut down schools on two occasions for one day we never heard those kinds of comments about the teachers,“ he said.

Contreras issued the following statement:

“School bus drivers are often the first district representative children see in the morning and the last one they see after school. Their work is vitally important, and they deserve better pay and to be treated with dignity and respect. I’m proud and grateful that our drivers always put the needs of our students first and I plan to keep fighting for better pay and more training for these dedicated employees.”

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