NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Nashville school bus drivers concerned about proposed cuts to how many hours they work each day shared their concerns with the Metro School Board Tuesday night.
Currently, bus drivers get paid for eight hours a day.
Dr. Jesse Register has proposed to cut that to seven hours a day. He estimates doing so will save about $2.5 million in the budget.
Mary Eady, bus driver and president of the United Steelworkers Union Local 9426, told News 2 the plan will cut more than just an hour a day.
"What they're saying is cut us an hour a day, but that also takes our overtime," Eady explained. "You don't work 40 hours, you don't get overtime, so they're taking more than just one hour a day. We got families, too."
Eady and other members of the union voiced their concerns at a board meeting Tuesday night that was so packed an overflow area had to be set up.
They feel their jobs go beyond driving students and they deserve to be paid for the work they do.
"Many of our drivers are single parents with children. We have a thankless job for the safe job that we do transporting your children," one driver said.
Dr. Register said the drivers get paid for eight hours a day right now, but the drive time is actually less than seven hours a day, so he thinks the cuts are fair.
Bus drivers say their responsibilities go beyond the eight hours they already work.
Another bus driver said, "Mandated meeting after your route with supervisors, [that's our] our time. Mechanical breakdowns sit on the side of the road wait for a service truck, that's our time. Defensive driving course, three hours annually, our time."
She also added that if a fight breaks out on the bus, and it involves blood, "the entire bus must be cleaned with bleach before another kid gets on."
District leaders presented their $633 million budget proposal Friday for the upcoming school year.
Details of the plan would impact 1,200 employees.
Even with a proposed $11 million in cuts, the district is asking for an additional $25 million.
Besides cutting the hours of bus drivers, the proposed cuts also include outsourcing 600 custodian and grounds crew positions to private companies and reducing the central office staff by 24 people.
The drivers, along with custodial staff and grounds keepers, will have a chance to speak again to the school board during a public hearing Thursday at 5 p.m.