Charleston, Dorchester 2 schools to run normal bus routes Monday

Brad Nettles/postandcourier.com Charleston County and Dorchester 2 school buses should run their regular morning and afternoon routes today. Buy this photo

Charleston County and Dorchester 2 school buses should run their regular morning and afternoon routes today.

School leaders in both districts hadn't received word by Sunday that a bus driver strike would be called today, and negotiations between the drivers' union and their employer were expected to resume Tuesday.

On Monday, students should plan to go to their bus stops at their regularly scheduled pick-up times, and drop-offs should take place as scheduled, too.

The potential strike stems from a disagreement between the bus drivers' union, Teamsters Local 509, and their employer, Durham School Services.

Both Charleston County schools and Dorchester 2 have a contract with Durham School Services to employ its bus drivers. The company and its unionized drivers have been negotiating on a new employment contract since summer, and a deal still has not been reached.

Durham released a statement late Sunday night that it shared in the concern for the uncertainty around student transportation “that lies in the hands of the union.”

“We remain committed to reaching an agreement with the Teamsters as we continue to balance the interests of our employees, our customers and our company at the negotiating table,” wrote Durham spokeswoman Carina Noble in an email.

Durham will do all it can to minimize any service disruption to students and ensure drivers have a “new and fair” agreement, she wrote.

Durham didn't specify which school district would be the focus of the negotiations Tuesday. Until a deal is reached, drivers could choose to strike.

In Charleston County, where a bus driver strike was a stronger possibility, Superintendent Nancy McGinley said the district remained on alert.

“We know that this situation can change at any time, but at this time, we will operate as normal,” she told parents in a recorded phone message Sunday. “I strongly recommend that you continue to identify alternative transportation plans in the event of a strike, but again, at the time that you are receiving this call, follow your normal process.”

Dorchester 2 school officials hadn't received word of a strike, either, and they planned for buses to run their regular routes.

Charleston County and Dorchester 2 schools still are in strike preparation mode, and they will open one hour earlier than normal.

Some Charleston County parents have started organizing carpools in case drivers strike. Their new website, ccsdparents.com, allows parents to sign up and find or offer rides to others in the district.

Both districts have said that should a strike be called, special education buses initially would be the only ones to run. Both are making back-up bus transportation plans, and they are soliciting applications for bus drivers.

Officials encouraged parents to stay tuned to local media for the latest updates.

Reach Diette Courrégé Casey at @Diette on Twitter or 937-5546.

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