Dozens of Bullitt County bus drivers call out sick amid demands for higher pay

The number of uncovered bus routes in the district nearly doubled since the last day students were in school
Published: Oct. 12, 2021 at 1:58 PM EDT|Updated: Oct. 12, 2021 at 6:30 PM EDT
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - Bullitt County Public Schools are struggling to find bus drivers. It’s a problem that isn’t unique to the county.

However, that shortage was as evident as ever Tuesday, with some drivers saying they wouldn’t return to driving until certain demands are met.

Some of those bus drivers acknowledged the problems that could cause for parents.

”Of course, we apologize,” said Nichole Marshall, who has been a bus driver for about three years. “We want to be there for our students, but we need money coming in so we can get drivers in here before we lose even more and they have to self-transport all year.”

BCPS Superintendent Jesse Bacon confirmed about 30 routes went uncovered Tuesday, almost double the amount of uncovered routes the district had the last time students were in school more than a week ago.

That also means there are several uncovered routes likely due to other reasons than the so-called “sick-out.”

Bacon said he understands where the bus drivers are coming from, and wants to reach a middle ground.

“I promise you, there are no other individuals that love our kids more than our drivers,” said Bacon, “so we want to be able to work with them to provide solutions.”

Bacon’s sentiment was matched by the bus drivers, especially when it comes to how much they care about students.

”A lot of drivers have reached out to their parents and told them if you don’t have a ride, let me know, I’ll take them in my personal car,” Marshall said.

Marshall and the rest of the protesting bus drivers are demanding a few things:

- An hourly raise of $3.08 (which would make the starting pay for drivers $20.00).

- Sick days given back to drivers who contracted COVID-19, or were made to quarantine, plus no vaccine stipulation.

- Yearly raises including $.50 an hour, and at least $1 every five years. They are also asking the district to end a five-year pay freeze for new hires.

- Optional summer escrow.

The only stipulation they say is non-negotiable is the pay raise.

Bacon said he’s willing to talk to the involved parties.

“We’re open to that, we’re looking forward to doing it,” Bacon said. “I think if we can get together and work together, I think we can come up with some workable solutions moving forward, for short term and long term.”

Bacon said the district already has taken several steps to address the issue, including the following actions taken at their last board meeting:

  • Approval of an attendance stipend that is equivalent to a 6-8 percent-a-week increase in pay.
  • Approval of a stipend for current district employees (coaches, custodians, other classified staff, etc.) to obtain a CDL-B and fill in as a substitute driver when needed.
  • Approval of the opportunity for drivers and monitors to carry out extra duties for additional compensation.

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