Winston-Salem school officials work to meet bus driver demands amid shortage

Piedmont Triad News

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (WGHP) — Almost two months into the school year, parents keep sending FOX8 complaints about late buses or drivers who don’t show up.

There is a driver shortage in just about every county in the Piedmont-Triad.

In Winston-Salem, some drivers are talking about a possible strike over low pay and what they claim are unsafe working conditions.

“I don’t think anyone is asking for anything that’s out of this world,” said Val Young, the president of the Forsyth County Association of Educators.

Young advocates for the members of the FCAE, bus drivers, teacher’s assistants and many more school system employees.

She planned a few weeks ago to sit down with the superintendent in a formal meeting to talk about concerns.

The biggest ask among bus drivers is higher pay.

“If you never get a raise, your money stays the same, and it is really difficult to operate a household on the same pot of money when everything else is going up,” Young said.

A spokesperson for the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County School District told FOX 8 attendance bonuses are already given. The county is also working to install better radios in all buses.

Advocates say it’s a step in the right direction but not enough.

“Some of them are 30-year vets, 35 years. And to be making less than $20 an hour, and you’ve been with a company for that long, I think that puts it into perspective,” Young said.

To get the point across, a group of bus drivers plan to strike Friday which could leave students waiting for their buses all day.

That’s an action Young doesn’t think is the answer.

“We do not support illegal actions, so any action that is not in the realm of things we should support, we don’t assist in them,” Young said.

What she does agree with is having a conversation to see if the district can meet these demands. The meeting between the FCAE and the superintendent is not open to the public or the media.

FOX8 asked school district leaders how they learned about the strike. They say they learned about it through media outlets.

Superintendent McManus is asking for a heads up before this happens so they can get students to school safely.

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