LATEST UPDATE as of 12:53 p.m.: The employer of school bus drivers in Charleston and Dorchester 2 plans to resume negotiations with drivers on Monday, and it doesn't expect to release further updates until then.
Durham School Services released a statement saying they are looking “forward to furthering the progress made thus far at the bargaining table.”
Teamsters Local 509, the union representing drivers in Charleston and Dorchester 2, released a statement Thursday afternoon saying it planned to participate in those talks.
Dorchester 2 school officials have said they were told by Durham that “as long as the negotiations are continuing there would be no strike.”
The union representing Charleston and Dorchester 2 school bus drivers wrapped up negotiations Thursday on a positive note, and it appears a strike today is very unlikely.
Teamsters Local 509, which represents drivers in Beaufort, Charleston and Dorchester 2, released a statement saying that it has “made progress at the bargaining table” and that it would resume negotiations with its employer on Monday.
A top Durham School Services official has said a strike while negotiations are ongoing would be “highly unusual.”
The union and Durham have been trying to reach an agreement on a new employment contract since July, and three intense days of negotiations took place this week.
Bus drivers' pay has been the major sticking point, although drivers also have concerns with the maintenance and safety of buses.
Although a deal hasn't been reached, officials have said continued negotations are a good sign.
Charleston and Dorchester 2 school officials had not been notified of a planned strike today, and buses were scheduled to run their regular routes.
How a strike could affect schools, children, parents
The Post and Courier requested information from Charleston County school officials to look at how a potential strike could affect different schools. Charter schools were not included in the school-by-school analysis because of apparent errors in the provided figures. Similar information from Dorchester 2 was requested but was not available.
Which area of Charleston County has the highest percentage of bus riders?
District 1 (McClellanville) 83.8 percent
District 23 (Hollywood) 76.4 percent
District 9 (Johns Island) 69.3 percent
District 4 (North Charleston) 62.2 percent
District 2 (Mount Pleasant) 58.6 percent
District 10 (West Ashley) 58 percent
District 3 (James island) 37.8 percent
District 20 (downtown) 35.6 percent
What do school bus drivers make typically?
The South Carolina Department of Education doesn't have a district-by-district compilation of bus drivers' salaries. Information for the wages of Dorchester 2 school bus drivers was not available, and Veolia, which employs drivers for the Charleston Area Regional Transportation Authority, would not release details of its pay scale. The following are the hourly average rates for part-time bus drivers in South Carolina school districts, unless otherwise noted.
Beaufort (enrolls 19,995 students): $14.65 per hour
Berkeley (enrolls 30,085 students): $13.50 to $14*
Charleston (enrolls 44,126 students): $14.40
Richland 2 (Columbia - enrolls 25,964 students): $14.24
Greenville (enrolls 72,000 students): $15.17 per hour is the maximum wage paid to its drivers with nine or more years of experience*
National average: $14.58 per hour for a starting driver**
*Drivers are full-time
**Figures provided by schoolbusfleet.com
Top 10 schools with the highest percentages of bus riders
Baptist Hill High 89.8 percent
St. John's High 89.1 percent
Stall High 87.8 percent
Garrett Academy of Technology 85.5 percent
North Charleston High 84.6 percent
Lincoln High 84.6 percent
St. James-Santee Elementary 83.4 percent
Northwoods Middle 83.3 percent
CE Williams Middle 81.2 percent
Cario Middle 79.6 percent
Top 10 schools with the most students who ride the bus
Wando High 2,522
West Ashley High 1,418
Cario Middle 1,075
Stall High 911
Pinckney Elementary 795
School of the Arts 786
Northwoods Middle 721
Garrett Academy of Technology 562
Laurel Hill Primary 550
C.E. Williams Middle 528
Top 10 schools with the lowest percentages of bus riders
Mount Pleasant Academy 10.3%
Harbor View Elementary 18.1%
Midland Park Primary 19.7%
Stiles Point Elementary 23.3%
Mitchell Elementary 26%
A.C. Corcoran Elementary 26.5%
Murray La-Saine Elementary 26.8%
Hursey Elementary 30.1%
Ashley River Creative Arts Elem. 33.9%
Sanders-Clyde School 36%
Students who ride the bus in Charleston County: 56%
Low-income students in Charleston County: 51.5%
School bus riders in Charleston County who are low income: 59.1%