Seminole County school buses roll out amid possibility of strike

Seminole County district officials are warning of a possible bus driver strike or sick-out.

In an update on Friday morning, the school district told FOX 35 News: "Everything operating smoothly and normal thus far this morning.  We’ll need to see if that remains the case for our afternoon shifts as well, which come in later."

Bus driver Chonta Henderson is one of many bus drivers in Seminole County Public Schools who is fed up, especially after COVID-19. 

"As a faithful 16-year veteran of this district, my salary reflects the salary of a first-year employee," said Henderson. 

She voiced her concerns about being overworked and underpaid at a recent school board meeting.

"They’re waking up at 4:30 a.m. Some of them aren’t getting home until 7, 8, 9 at night just doing their job their regular job, so it is hard on them," said Seminole Uniserv Executive Director Chardo Richardson.

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Some drivers are pulling double duty. "It is stressful when you cannot receive help from your managers, routers, or other office personnel because they are being a bus driver," explained Henderson at the board meeting.

Now the district is preparing for a possible bus driver strike or walk-out Friday.  SCPS sent a memo to parents saying they are hoping for "smoother and normal operations" and will "continue to keep our families informed in case you wish to plan for alternative transportation methods as a result." 

"We will do our very best effort to make multiple runs, whatever we have to do to make sure those students get to school and/or picked up from school and delivered home as safe as possible," said SCPS spokesperson Michael Lawrence.

Even the union representing bus drivers is discouraging the protest. 

"The striking and just not showing up doesn’t really help anybody in this situation," said Richardson.

The union and district are in the middle of bargaining right now and expect new salaries to be finalized in the coming weeks.  The union warned drivers they could be fired or lose retirement benefits if they walk out. 

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