HENRICO, VA (WWBT) – Henrico bus drivers are revved up about their new contract...they say it's a raw deal that will force many of them to quit.
That complaint was heard Tuesday evening as school leaders, facing a $26 million budget hole, were grilled on the latest budget proposal. Earlier in the day, bus drivers and their supporters explained what they say is a problem.
Harry Moseley showed up for our interview driving his blue SUV, but in the mornings and afternoons he's behind the wheel of a bright yellow school bus. And for him, the future is dark.
"The reality is many of us are gonna look for other forms of employment," Moseley said.
Harry and other drivers are upset about their new proposed contracts. Instead of paying drivers five to eight hours a day, the school district is calling for an across the board deal for six hours.
Mychael Dickerson, with the school district, said a study last year revealed more than half of the county's bus drivers were getting paid for hours they didn't actually work...numbers the bus drivers dispute.
"This is a way to be more efficient and to be responsible with taxpayer dollars," Dickerson said.
The school district expects to save almost $2.3 million under this plan. On the other hand, bus drivers say that's a significant amount of their income; anywhere from $3,000 to $6,000 per driver, which Moseley says would have some consider quitting.
"We're gonna have to leave," he said.
William Harris of Sandston, whose grandson rides the bus, is concerned about that.
"They're [parents] dependent on these people to get their children to and from school safely," Harris said.
Dickerson tells us talks continue...and no matter the outcome, it won't put the brakes on bus transportation.
"And we certainly hope that all of our drivers stay onboard. But we don't want parents to think that we're not gonna be able to service students next Fall," Dickerson said.
School leaders say the bus driver deals in Henrico remain competitive, including a slight pay increase, and retirement benefits. The school board will consider whether to make any changes before voting on the plan later this month.
Educators say they'll also save money by designing more efficient bus routes, and by not filling open positions in the schools and the central office.