BATON ROUGE– Many bus drivers with the East Baton Rouge School System are unhappy as school reached the two-week mark Wednesday.
So far this school year, over half of the bus drivers called in on one day, and classes were canceled another day.
Bus drivers made their frustrations known when over 50 percent did not show up for work on Friday, Aug. 18. Of the 375 bus drivers EBRPSS has, 196 called out. As a result, all classes were canceled Monday.
Classes resumed Tuesday but with an altered schedule. All secondary schools (high and middle schools) dismissed at 1:35 p.m., and all elementary schools dismissed at the regular 3:35 time.
At least one bus driver told UWK it is too hot on their school buses without AC. It created significant backups as parents had to drop off their children and forced school officials to delay starting school by two hours on Aug. 18.
One bus driver told UWK school officials met with the bus drivers on Tuesday and Wednesday.
“He (Superintendent Sito Narcisse) told us that we’re all going to have to do a three-tier route,” the driver said. “This means one of them (schools) starts at 6 a.m., one starts around 8 a.m. (middle), and 9 a.m. starts the elementary. It doesn’t make sense. Everyone was upset, and they got up and walked out. Yesterday, we had a meeting, and he talked about the stipend and the money. Yesterday, he just did it virtually. He’s so unpredictable. Nobody knows what the left or right hand is doing at that place.”
“They have 100 broken buses,” the driver added. “We have three or four mechanics. My bus has air but blows hot air. It’s just horrible work conditions. He tells you he will give you a stipend, then he says, ‘We’re going to work on that stipend.’ Well, that’s not what you said yesterday at the meeting.”
The driver said the weather conditions make it dangerous for everyone riding on those buses.
“If he would get on a bus, ride a route or two, he’d see what we go through,” the driver said. “We are dehydrated on that bus. I’ve never seen anything like this in my life. The kids are dying from the heat. They do the silliest things, and they need to get more mechanics to fix more buses. We have 100 buses broken. A 100. It makes no sense what they are doing up there.”
UWK has reached out to the East Baton Rouge Parish School System for a response to this report.
“District leaders are working on several plans to stabilize the transportation issues for our families and community, but nothing has been formalized or presented for a board vote yet,” said the school district.