CCSD operating in 'Code Yellow' as bus strike negotiations continue

CCSD Superintendent Nancy McGinley at Wednesday's press conference.
CCSD Superintendent Nancy McGinley at Wednesday's press conference.

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Charleston County School District Superintendent Nancy McGinley held a press conference Wednesday urging parents to be prepared in the event of a strike by Durham School Services employees.

McGinley told reporters she has not been notified of a strike at the time of the conference, and that busses will operate as normal on Thursday. In the event of a bus drivers strike, she says parents need to be ready with a plan to get their children to and from school.

The superintendent also said Charleston County Schools will keep their facilities open until every child is picked up safely, and teachers and staff will be asked to arrive at least 45 minutes early each morning if a strike occurs.

Durham School Services has been locked in labor negotiations with its employee's union, Teamsters, dating back to July 2012. The two sides are discussing compensation for bus drivers.

John Elliott, a spokesman for the company, spoke at a press conference earlier Wednesday afternoon to provide an update on the negotiations.

Elliot said Durham is willing to offer drivers for the Charleston County School District a .45-cent wage increase per hour, which is a 3% raise. Elliott said Teamsters, who originally requested an 8% raise for drivers, are now asking for an extra $1 wage-per-hour increase for its drivers.

"We think .45 cents is a reasonable offer," Elliott said.

The school district is developing a back-up plan in the event of a strike.

The superintendent said 30 people have been identified as "ready to drive" and can fill in if needed. McGinley says the district's number one priority will be to get handicap students to and from school.

McGinley says Charleston County School District has 22,000 students who rely on daily bus service, and uses 413 bus drivers.

Berkeley County School District spokesperson Susan Haire says Berkeley County bus drivers are welcome to offer assistance to Charleston County if a strike occurs, although she is unsure at this time if drivers will be compensated for their time and gas.

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