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Bus routes in Sumter were delayed Tuesday morning after 20 out of 90 drivers did not report to work over what they’re saying are concerns about their pay.
Of the 20 drivers, 18 were from the Sumter bus hub, and six were from the Furman hub, according to Shelly Galloway, spokeswoman for Sumter School District. Four had given prior notice they would not be at work. She said coaches, teachers and regular drivers from other areas covered for the shortage and picked up students for school.
The situation appears to stem from the drivers wanting more pay.
The district received an anonymous letter that contained concerns about pay, improvements and the desire to meet with Superintendent Penelope Martin-Knox, Galloway said.
“Due to the confidentiality of pay, three days (Oct. 30, Nov. 1 and Nov. 5) were set aside to meet with drivers on an individual basis,” she said. “However, only six drivers elected this opportunity to meet, and the majority of those canceled. Yesterday, district administration discussed scheduling meetings to meet with the drivers collectively by area, as well.”
About 20 people gathered outside the district office on Wilson Hall Road on Tuesday morning with signs and calling for higher pay.
Martin-Knox met with those drivers, who presented “valid concerns, and she offered to meet with representatives of the group to continue discussion. Bus drivers will also have the opportunity to meet in a group setting next week,” Galloway said.
Parents received a message from the district just after 7:30 a.m. saying there was a shortage of drivers, to expect a delay and thanking them for their patience.
Galloway said routes will run as usual Tuesday afternoon and that the district is not anticipating major delays.
“As we are still in a fiscal emergency, all matters that pertain to the effective operations of the district,” she said, “particularly those that impact the education of our children, continues to be our top priority.”
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