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Charles County school bus drivers continue strike, demand better salary and benefits

WJLA – Washington D.C. logo WJLA – Washington D.C. 10/26/2021 Brad Bell
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As the Charles County school bus driver strike is headed for a fourth day tomorrow. patience is wearing thin. 

Parents scrambling to transport their children say they’ve had enough. 

“The kids need to be looked out for,” said Melvin Johnson as he dropped his daughter off at middle school today, “Let's do something for the kids.”

But today after meeting with the superintendent of schools, striking drivers say they’re not being offered what they want. 

“We walked away with nothing. It was disrespectful,” said driver Robert Thomas after the meeting.

The drivers are demanding a $15 per hour raise. 

Driver Crystal Stoney who also attended the meeting says, “We want to take the driver salary from $20.12 to $35.12 and attendants from $14.78 to $24.78.”

That is far from the 4% increase in December on top of a 3% raise already given in September that they’re being offered by the county. It also far exceeds the approximately $20 per hour drivers are paid in neighboring Prince George’s County.

Charles County Superintendent Maria Navarro says she understands the drivers' frustration and says today’s meeting is a starting point. She says talks will continue.

Some drivers are vowing the strike will also continue until they get what they want. After today’s meetings dozens of drivers gathered at the school board building in La Plata chanted “what do you want? Shut it down!”

Parents and students are advised to check the school system website, CCBOE.com, frequently for updates on which bus routes are running and which are not.

Caption: A school bus driver strike in Charles County, Maryland has entered day three Tuesday, Oct. 26, 2021. (Brad Bell/7News)

CCPS announced that some school bus routes will not run due to a shortage of drivers. School officials released a list of cancellations, route coverage, and delays.

RELATED | Charles Co. school bus driver strike enters day 3 with routes canceled, students impacted

There have been issues with bus driver shortages and strikes in counties throughout the DMV since children returned to school.

A meeting is scheduled for Nov. 17 for CCPS to present short-term and long-term plans to contractors, drivers, and attendants.

Charles County Public Schools released a statement Monday morning about the matter:

Charles County Public Schools (CCPS) is experiencing bus service interruptions today, Monday, Oct. 25, 2021. As of 8:15 a.m., 157 routes did not have coverage. There are 59 buses that are not covering routes this morning. CCPS has 280 buses, and a total of 718 routes. One bus may provide service for up to four schools. Contractors as well as CCPS transportation staff are covering as many routes as possible, but are not able to cover every route without bus service today. CCPS is posting transportation updates on its website at ccboe.com.

Since last week, CCPS has kept school system staff, students and families informed about bus service interruptions. Staff is working with the 26 county contractors who provide bus services to address driver and attendant concerns.

There is a rumored bus driver protest planned for this morning at the CCPS administrative office building in La Plata. CCPS has a Nov. 17 follow-up meeting to present both a short-term and long-term plan to contractors, as well as a representative group of bus drivers and attendants. Bus service interruptions affect the entire community - but mostly students, parents and families. CCPS is committed to working together with contractors, bus drivers and attendants to resolve concerns so they do not impact students.

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