Some Dallas County Schools bus drivers are threatening to walk off the job following Tuesday’s vote to phase out the financially troubled bus agency.
Fifty-eight percent of Dallas County voters chose to close DCS, meaning the Dallas Independent School District and other local districts will assume their own busing responsibilities.
Many of the drivers appeared Friday at a tense meeting with Dallas ISD officials, who tried to reassure them they will still have jobs under new management.
But the district could not say how just how much the drivers will be paid.
Some of the drivers threatened to walk if they don’t get answers by next week — a move that could leave kids stranded without a ride to school.
“Be patient. Next week, next Wednesday, the dissolution committee forms. I have no authority to tell you anything right now,” said Scott Layne, chief of operations for Dallas ISD.
“We need an answer by Thursday, or tell them — this is a message from us — that buses may not run, man. We can’t keep doing this,” one driver said.
Right now, the drivers still work for DCS, the agency voters decided to shut down in Tuesday’s election. Next week, a new committee takes over to run DCS through the end of the school year and then spin off busing to the local school districts, including Dallas ISD.
But some drivers fear Dallas ISD will pay them less than they make now.
“At this point we are so early in the process we will have to look at that and make a decision,” Layne said. “As I said before, we need you all. We do. You know we need you.”
In the meantime, Dallas ISD hopes drivers continue to show up.
“Well, there is always that concern. But I truly believe, based on what we have seen at this point, they’ve been very professional throughout this entire process,” Layne said.
“It’s a good chance that we will totally stop running the buses,” said driver Pete Peterson. “Yeah, and I can’t say what percentage, but at the same time, if I don’t know my fate how can I continue to drive one of these buses?”
Frustration, and uncertainty, continues while parents hope kids aren’t left at the curb.
“We appreciate DISD coming today. We appreciate those guys coming down here today, but really he couldn’t give us any answers,” said driver Ron Jackson.
The dissolution committee that will run DCS in the interim meets for the first time Wednesday. It’s unlikely they will have any answers about things like driver pay right away, and Dallas ISD’s board of trustees won’t start talking about future bus plans until Nov. 30.
So without more answers soon, the question becomes how serious are the drivers about carrying out their threats?