Earlier this year, Roanoke County Schools considered following the lead of Roanoke City, by outsourcing their transportation department. Roanoke City no longer employs school bus drivers. Instead they have a contract with Mountain Valley Transportation.
The idea was scrapped, and instead on February 27, 2014, Roanoke County school board voted to cut benefits of part-time workers, including school bus drivers. On the following day, some of the bus drivers decided to make a statement.
Without a word to anyone, bus drivers drove students to Roanoke County schools that morning. Later, close to 40 of the county’s 150 drivers called in sick. This left students stranded, and the schools closed at noon. Parents were scrambling to get their children off of school property.
I can remember the names of many school bus drivers, going back to my elementary school days in the late 1960s. They were all men and women who lived in the community. I can also recall a number of the brave souls who safely drove my children to and from school.
Many school bus drivers did so for extra money, but for some the pay as we as benefits are much needed. Bus drivers should be able to focus, so they can safely transport students to and from the place they obtain their education.
How focused can they be if they are concerned about the issues that come along with a decrease in benefits? Roanoke County has not stated whether or not the drivers who went on strike will be reprimanded.