Dougherty bus drivers wait for changes -, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Dougherty bus drivers wait for changes

March 10, 2008

Albany--  Dougherty County School bus drivers say they're complaints continue to be ignored.

Their dissatisfaction with the school system first came to light last year after several drivers walked off the job in response to a change in the way they're paid.

They put more complaints on paper and thought there would be some resolution at Monday night's board meeting.  Board members say changes will come gradually.

Another school board meeting ended Monday night with still no satisfaction for Dougherty County school bus drivers.

"I didn't get anything out of the meeting concerning the bus drivers," said Mary Richardson.

Mary Richardson has about 25 years with the school system under her belt. She wants the remainder of her time as an employee to be more enjoyable. "We need to be treated fair just like anyone else in the school system," said Richardson.

That's why she and several other drivers banded together to make their issues clear to school board members. "Buses aren't qualified to be on the road. The buses breaking down all the time, buses overcrowded," said Richardson.

Along with safety, pay was also another big issue. For months now they've been asking for something to be done.

"They promise us one thing and do another one and that's not fair," said Richardson. Richardson thought those issues would be thoroughly discussed at the school board meeting. "And it did not happen," said Richardson.

Instead they were presented with a report of their complaints already on record and another promise that the complaints will be addressed. School board member David Maschke says changes are already taking place.

"The Newton Road mechanic shop has been closed and those mechanics have been moved over to Turner Road so we're operating out of a single facility. The school board has already retained a consultant to write a new driver manual which will be shortly distributed to all bus drivers and the mechanics," said Maschke.

He says there have also been changes in bookkeeping and there's a new grievance process and a new bus driver committee. But bus drivers say problems remain unchanged.

"They say they're fixing them but all I hear on the radio is somebody breaking down, somebody can't crank. I got on my bus this morning and several buses couldn't crank up this morning. Some broke down during the day," said Richardson.

Richardson says drivers will continue to work with board members and push them to make positive changes before next school year. The Transportation Committee says Superintendent Sally Whatley will continue to address some of the bus driver's complaints.



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