NORFOLK, Va. — Transportation services to Norfolk Public Schools students ran as scheduled on Wednesday, despite local media reports that the district would experience bus driver shortages due to a “sick out” being organized by one employee.
"The commitment of our bus drivers reinforces our belief that we have dedicated, professional bus drivers whose No. 1 priority is to ensure our students get to school," said John Hazelette, interim senior director of transportation. “Our school bus drivers believe in doing what's right for students in Norfolk."
The lack of pay raises for employees over the last three years because of the district’s tight budget was supposed to be the reason for the alleged sick out.
Many employees have sent feedback about salary and other budgetary concerns to district administrators, and some have spoken at school board meetings. The school board and Superintendent Dr. Richard Bentley are currently working together to find an alternative that would give some relief to employees using federal jobs bill funding that would bring Norfolk Public Schools a one-time infusion of $8.2 million.
The board discussed options such as bonuses and pay raises at its work session on Monday night, and it will discuss the options further at its regular meeting next Wednesday, with a possible decision in December.
In a letter to the district’s bus drivers, Bentley wrote, “All of us are worried about the nationwide economic conditions and [are] disappointed by the effects. We look forward to better times. The school board is working on proposals for some financial relief for employees.
“Until then, we sincerely thank you for working with us to serve the children of this community. We value each and every one of you. You are professionals, and your work is critical to our mission.”