Bus Matters


There have been serious problems with busing all year in Monongalia County Schools. On top of that, there is a serious labor and management conflict ongoing between the bus drivers and their supervisors.

If school board meetings would be televised, everyone could see how this has been playing out for months. (Our green school lawsuit to be heard in Kanawha County requests of the Court many things, including mandatory televised school board meetings, as city council meetings are televised.)

Mon Schools management has been making ill-advised decisions in not acting on the more informed and knowledgeable suggestions of the bus drivers on various routing matters, and other issues. In fact last year the West Virginia School Service Personnel Association (WVSSPA) took Mon Schools to court to bring Mon Schools into legal compliance on busing and safety matters, successfully pushing for a Court order agreement this past July.

Why was the current Mon Schools Director of Transportation hired? Did he have any bus driving or busing experience?

Why did he write and sign a statement allowing children to stand on the buses if overloaded by the bus scheduling for which he is responsible?

The memo is a clear violation. This blog publicized the memo and evidently helped force Mon Schools to retract that policy change. So this conflict is serious and ongoing. It’s much worse than Mon Schools failing to “appreciate” the bus drivers, as was reported on WAJR. Mon Schools too often fails to respect the bus drivers’ knowledge and their rights, which creates a safety menace and various inefficiencies, and which batters morale. The safety of the children is threatened and the value of their time and that of their parents is disregarded. And the bus drivers are ill treated.

Woodburn Elementary releases at 3:35. Sometimes the buses are a half hour late or more. The crossing guard can’t leave until 4:15 or later. Scheduling has been a mess.

It seems that the bus drivers need to publicize their numerous serious grievances through a blog, at the very least, perhaps with anonymity because they are always under threat of being fired, unlike Woodburn parents on this blog. Even so, it’s tough to get the word out.

A constant stream of information direct to the public can help clarify some of what is going on: a serious labor and management conflict over various problems, a conflict that shows no signs of going away.

This New Woodburn Community School blog, along with the courageous act of the bus driver in going public with the Bus Director’s memo to her, evidently helped force Mon Schools to restore its bus seating policy, without a lawsuit – every child gets a seat, imagine that!

This website evidently helped force Mon Schools to abandon its outrageous and illegal proposal to change its FOIA policy, without a lawsuit. (The scandalous proposal has quietly disappeared, for now at least, after being odious enough to make news at the USA Today and in newspapers across the country, and to be condemned by West Virginia notable Bray Cary in a commentary. UPDATE: THE OUTRAGEOUS FOIA POLICY HAS BEEN ADOPTED BY MON BOE. IT NEEDS TO BE TAKEN TO COURT AND OVERTURNED. ) For bigger matters, a lawsuit has been necessary, and we expect to prevail in that as well.

Maybe the bus drivers are not much used to public speaking, unlike many of the active members of the Woodburn coalition. On the other hand, it has been said that two of the most eloquent talks ever heard at a school board meeting were delivered by two bus drivers this past Tuesday.

The bus drivers initially could not get on the agenda for this past Tuesday’s school board meeting to speak their concerns. And they were not on the agenda that went out a few days before the meeting, as by law agendas must. Instead they were to be relegated to the 5 minute slot that any member of the public may sign up for. That would be treating them wrongly. And would be in line with how they are otherwise treated with disrespect. But unlike some of the other employees of Mon Schools, the bus drivers do not appear to be particularly timid, and they eventually got on the agenda.

The bus drivers (and other Mon Schools workers) need a bigger voice, at the least. It would be great to see them operating their own website or blog that broadcasts and explains, that comments on and discusses their issues and concerns, sending their many voices and views direct to the public.

5 Responses to “Bus Matters”

  1. Clara Swinburn Says:

    I agree there are major busing problems in Mon County but for the record Woodburn seems to be the only school who has had to change their dismissal time to try and compensate for the late buses. It seems like Woodburn just gets the leftover buses for the afternoon and I would also like to add that the teachers at Woodburn are not paid to be there that late. Several of the teachers have accumulated several hours staying after school to load the kids. I feel these teachers need to be paid for any extra time they stay over. As for me I am only paid to be there a half an hour ( 3:30 – 4:00 ) but I because I live in the neighborhood and consider the kids all my kids, I would stay till whenever to ensure they get on there buses to home but the teachers really need to be paid for ALL their time there.

    • newcommunityschool Says:

      We should note that the City of Morgantown, as partner of Woodburn Elementary, pays for Clara’s work. Mon Schools does not even pay her a penny. Mon Schools should at the least pay Clara for the extra unpaid time she puts in due to their bus scheduling problems. Mon Schools owes her both special recognition and back pay.

  2. outsiders thought Says:

    I would have to say Clara there are more problems with scheduling in this county than you know. Skyview for example gets out at 3:30, and it’s 4-4:10 before buses get there. Mylan too. So you are not alone. And guess what – the board pays aides extra duty contracts to stay over. These are not ideal schedules. No one wants to work with the drivers to combine and make things easier. It looks like tax payers money is being used for unneccessary uses. They want to work mechanics in excessive overtime and when a bus breaks down they have no one to get to the bus and children, so they have to call a local tow company if an emergency arises and I am not certain but that may fall under a safety violation with no mechanics at the garage. It seems like if they can pay a director $85,000 or so plus stipends they could be able to pay a crossing guard for the safety of children. I believe the board pays Raspa a great expense now. If you look in past board minutes and newspaper articles something to the tune of $22.00 an hour. So as the saying goes “no good deed goes unpunished”. Safety should be the most important thing on the board and superintendent’s list and lately it looks like the mighty dollar has taken over. Greed for their friends, relatives and who ever will not challenge their ideas. Let’s look at the salaries of every employee in Mon Co. Yes money is nice but we all seem to forget these are children. They need direction they need an education but they also need someone to look after their well being and safety. I wonder who cares why public education was ever reformed. And I will also ask why did people apply for these types of jobs. Most probably would tell you “Because they love kids”. It seems like people forget that it could have been a cook, an aide, a custodian, a secretary, a bus driver or a teacher that gave you that one word of encouragement that made a difference in your life. If people want to know what is involved in education attend your board meetings read the minutes the agenda. Don’t just sit there and do nothing.

  3. angry bus driver Says:

    As a bus driver for many years I have seen this transportation center fall apart before my eyes! First of all I never understood why they would put a transportation center out on one end of the county? The school board is paying to rent a building, when they owned property in the center of town. Could it be that someones palm got greased? Next thing, this so called director we have, has never in his life driven a bus, but is drawing a paycheck of 85k a year with a retirement that he brought from another job, that had absolutely nothing to do with transportation. As a driver and a taxpayer I think this is completely unacceptable!
    If you wonder why we have low morale maybe its because we are treated so disrespectfully by administration. Maybe administration should start treating the drivers they have with good ethics and maybe it would’nt be so hard to find new drivers! Maybe administration should learn to follow the golden rule.

  4. outsiders thought Says:

    I wonder how many bus drivers really work for Marcellus Drilling.
    Bus drivers “we have a crisis”.
    You bet and I believe your problem is in administration….
    If you pay a director 85,000 with no experience and a bus driver 17,000, I think there are some discrepancies in pay….
    Look who takes on the responsibility, obviously not the director, seems like he does not want to face reality. Maybe the Dominion Post should interveiw the drivers instead of administration. Mr Keihl hit the real reason “we are in a crisis.”

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