30 bus drivers ready to go in event of strike, says CCSD

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) - Charleston County School District Superintendent Dr. Nancy McGinley said Wednesday afternoon the district had 30 trained and licensed drivers at their disposal in the event of a strike.

McGinley called for the press conference shortly after Durham School Services executives held a press conference giving an update on the ongoing negotiations between Teamsters and the bus company. Again, McGinley reiterated the need for parents to plan to get their children to and from school in the event bus drivers do stage a strike.

Currently, officials said in a statement, they have no indication from either side that a strike would happen Thursday.

"As far as we know right now, Thursday is a normal school day," McGinley said.

McGinley said she and Dorchester District 2 Superintendent Joe Pye had been in constant contact, sharing ideas about how best to proceed if they do face a time without school buses. McGinley said there are more than 550 union bus drivers between the two districts.

She said that the district has been working under the assumption that common sense and the good will of teachers will prompt them to come in early and stay late as students' schedules change.

She also said the district has no plan to cancel school on the first day of a strike.

"In my view, we need to be open on the first day," McGinley said. "There are many what-if scenarios, so we have to be prepared."

McGinley said they have to plan for students who are standing at a bus stop before 6 a.m. and whose parents make the assumption that their child is going to school when they head out the door to the bus stop.

"I don't want children victimized by this strike - this is an adult issue," she said.

The Charleston County School District's Board of Trustees went into executive session Wednesday afternoon to discuss the legal and safety ramifications of a work stoppage due to a bus driver strike.

Officials with the district said information about the meeting would be released after the body left executive session.

Shortly before word of the meeting was released, CCSD Superintendent Dr. Nancy McGinley said she would take questions from the media on the pending bus strike.

McGinley has said recently that the district's hands are mostly tied as the unionized bus drivers and Durham Bus Services officials negotiate the terms of a new contract.

Durham officials said Wednesday afternoon that the bus drivers were currently seeking a $1 per hour increase in pay, which is down 50 cents from their initial request.

Durham officials called that request "beyond reason." The teamsters responded, saying the bus company pushed the talks into the media, not the union.

The bus company and Beaufort County drivers will meet on Thursday. Charleston County drivers are currently meeting with the company.

Talks are expected to last into next week.