Carroll County bus drivers asked the Carroll County School Board to restore benefits to them and special needs aides at a May 8 regular meeting at CCHS. Linda Montgomery pleaded the case during the public comment portion of the meeting.
“I am speaking tonight on behalf of bus drivers and our special need aides. Dr. Perry, Dr. Burnette and School Board Members, first we would like to thank you for your kind consideration of our concerns. I ask you please take the time to listen to our request. As you all are well aware of the fact the newer contracted drivers do not receive any benefits at all,” said Montgomery, who later said she has more than 25 years total experience at the job.
She told the board newer contracted drivers have the same responsibilities as the older contracted drivers with full benefits.
“We are here to address this issue. We’d like to say we appreciate our jobs and it is a pleasure to work for David Kinzer, Transportation Manager. He truly is an asset to this school system. Also, due to the shortage of drivers there are many times garage mechanics have had to cover routes. We are told we are professionals and that the job could not be done without us. This is very true. Not just anyone can get in a bus and transport students safely. It requires a great deal of training to have the knowledge to legally, professionally drive a school bus and we drivers invest a great deal of our time in training,” Montgomery said. “We take on a tremendous responsibility each and every day to safely transport precious cargo – the students – which is not always easy. We deal with students that yell, scream, cry, get out of their seats, crawl under the seats, crawl over the seats, stand up in the aisles, fight with each other and do not listen to the driver. They are disrespectful, disobedient and plain out rude. We as drivers are principal, teacher, counselor, supervisor, nurse, babysitter and then the bus driver. We do all of this in a classroom which is a mobile box on wheels.”
She recalled when a driver asked a former superintendent what would it take to get benefits back and was told, “When you work six hours per day and you become full time.”
“I say to you we are full time. We are full time when you consider all we do in a day. Driving is only the beginning. Plugging the bus up at night so it will start in the morning. Warming up the bus in the morning so the children can keep warm. Pre-trip inspections every day. That is a must. Daily paperwork, discipline problems, meeting with principals, (mechanical) breakdowns and most of all sitting in line for 30 minutes to fuel the bus at our only fuel pump. Then of course there’s keeping the bus clean,” Montgomery said. “In addition we are on call at all times. For early dismissal. For school starting two hours late.“
Montgomery said in her opinion taking benefits from new drivers had created two classes of bus drivers, the haves and the have nots. She said it was like asking a mother to chose a favorite child.
“There’s a biblical story about that where the father chose one and the mother chose another one and you know how that story ended. Envy. Strife. Jealousy. I don’t have to tell you how that story ended,” Montgomery said. “In conclusion tonight I respectfully request and I implore you to do the right thing for the these qualified and professional drivers. We hope this will be considered and approved and it does not fall on deaf ears. That we may become one group of bus drivers and not two groups of bus drivers.”
Spencer thanked them for their comments and said it would be taken under consideration and the board would do what it could do.
“Believe me, there is no board who appreciates what you do every day more. One blessing Carroll County has is our teachers are not only in the classroom. They are in the cafeteria and they are on our buses,” said Spencer. “Our Board thanks you.”
David Broyles may be reached at 276-779-4013 or on Twitter@CarrollNewsDave.