Both union, school bus drivers’ employer looking forward to continued talks on Monday

Crossing guard Betty Ellis helps students leaving Jerry Zucker Middle School of Science in North Charleston on Thursday. Buy this photo

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.”

TODAY'S STORY:
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%

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