Stanly County school bus drivers sit out in protest for higher wages

STANLY COUNTY, N.C. — Some school bus drivers in Stanly County are taking a stand by not getting back behind the wheel until they get a pay raise.

The carpool line at Baden Elementary School on Tuesday afternoon was longer than usual -- it was the second day that many school buses in Stanly County were not running. Drivers did not work and parents scrambled to make other plans.

[ALSO READ: CMS Board votes to bump hourly pay for school bus drivers to $17.75]

“We just found out, like, on the spot yesterday,” parent Deanna Acevedo said.

Acevedo struggled on Monday morning to get her 5-year-old son to Baden Elementary School on time and back home because his bus driver was not going to work.

“No, I don’t blame them,” Acevedo said. “You know, it’s really the school system’s fault here. They should’ve known to do something about this last week when they knew it was pretty serious.”

“And I feel for the parents,” bus driver Denise Harris told Channel 9. “I know they got to work, and I know the kids got to go to school.”

[READ MORE: NC’s largest school system warns parents of possible bus driver absences due to strike]

Harris is one of those bus drivers who sat out Monday and Tuesday because she said drivers need a pay raise.

“I don’t make enough money,” she said. “My husband passed in July. So, I’m down to one income and it’s hard to pay the bills off at $13 an hour, you know what I’m saying?”

Harris said she was one of about two dozen bus drivers who gathered outside the school board office on Monday to let people know why they’re sitting out. The issue was expected to come up at Tuesday’s regularly scheduled board meeting.

Meanwhile, parents at Baden Elementary have already been notified that they’ll have to plan for another day without buses on Wednesday.

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Sarah Michael, who was at the school to pick up her grandchild, told Channel 9 she especially feels for children who are stuck in the middle of the situation.

“Worrying about getting here on time and being picked up,” Michael said. “Because a lot of the children, I’m sure, don’t have the option for a family pick up.”

(WATCH MORE: CMS votes to increase hourly pay for school bus drivers)

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