FRANKLIN COUNTY, Tenn. (WKRN) – Tuesday morning, many students in Franklin County were left without a way to get to school when their bus drivers did not show up for their routes.

That left many parents scrambling and others offering a helping hand.

According to an alert at 6:30 a.m. Tuesday morning, Franklin County School spokesperson Delinda McDonald said school buses in Franklin County were not running all day, except for Special Services and Special Education buses.

Robby Clark said while the short notice wasn’t too much of a hassle for him to take his children to school, he could see other parents’ frustration over the situation.

“I got the phone call at 6:45 this morning, and that’s not really a good notice for people who need to make arrangements,” Clark told News 2. “I live ten minutes from my school, so it’s not a big deal, but we are rural. I’d rather see a kid in school than marked tardy or have to miss because they didn’t have a bus.”

Clark said only a local radio station had given advance warning that there may not be school bus drivers for Tuesday, which was not ideal.

“I saw no official word regarding that matter, and that’s kind of terrifying,” he said. “I wish they said something sooner.”

Then around 1 p.m. Tuesday, McDonald alerted on social media that some – not all – buses will be running and covering double routes Tuesday afternoon.

Several Franklin County volunteers took to social media to offer rides for children whose buses are not running.

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Franklin County bus drivers are reportedly refusing to run their routes after the Franklin County Commission denied the Franklin County School Board its budget request, which included a raise for both teachers and drivers and $4.41 million for a new activity center using ESSER COVID relief funds. The Herald-Chronicle reports the full commission approved the county government’s budget but denied the school board’s budget after previously telling the school board it would not approve the activity center funds.

Some commissioners said they felt the ESSER—Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief—funds would be better put toward other expenses over the activity center, like raises for Franklin County teachers and the bus drivers.

That sentiment has the Franklin County community up in arms, including Dana Blaser.

“It’s a shame our county has failed the kids of the county that depend on that bus ride to school,” she told News 2. “The bus drivers haven’t gotten a raise since 2013!”

She further said she supported the bus drivers for “taking a stand” and offered to give rides to children who needed it because their bus drivers were striking.

“I bet some kids were standing waiting on a bus that wasn’t coming at 6 a.m. this morning,” Blaser said. “I offered on my personal page to pick up kids that would need a ride. I work from home, so I’m able to do so. Parents that had to be at work at 7 a.m. had to probably scramble to find a suitable solution to get their kids there this morning.”

Franklin County has seven different elementary schools, two middle schools, one high school and one K-12 school all without transportation Tuesday.

Clark also offered to pick up the children of his friends and neighbors if they needed the assistance, as he passes by several of their homes on his way to take his child to school.

“I pass maybe three or four of my kid’s friends’ houses, and it’s no trouble to pick them up and take them to school,” he said.

Whitney Crockett offered her vehicle as well, saying if anyone needed their child picked up from North Middle School or Franklin County High School, she could help. She has a third seat available in her car, she said, and she could fit three more children if needed.

“As a mother, I cannot imagine being on the other side of the fence,” she told News 2. “It’s hard on these children just as it is the adults.”

Crockett said she understood why the drivers were taking a stand for their rights but also worried about the impact on the children of Franklin County.

“They need to know that they matter, that they are taken care of,” she said of the drivers.

She added she wanted to be a source of light for someone and their child if she could, as the world needed more kindness.

“As a mother my goal is for my children one day to say, ‘I want to be like my mother,’” she said. “Be a kind human.”

“As a parent I know it literally takes a village,” Christy Lynn told News 2 about her offer to pick up and drop off children at school or home. “It’s not the children’s or parents’ fault that this situation has come up.”

Lynn said she has not yet received a call for assistance, but she was willing to step in and help for those who need it.

“Myself and others will still be willing to help as long as we are needed,” Lynn said.

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Another Good Samaritan offering their services is Jason Ashley, the owner of Ashley Custom Lumber in Elora, just southwest of Huntland. Ashley said his business would be glad to help out any Huntland students needing rides because they had no other means of transportation on the south side of Franklin County.

“That is our closest neighbors, and we are willing to help,” Ashley said in his post.

Ashley told News 2 when he saw that the buses wouldn’t be running in the county, he immediately pictured the students already disadvantaged in transportation needs and wanted to help.

“God has given me so much and has given me a means to help people,” he said, so he offered to step in if needed.

Ashley said he has a truck ready to go for any Huntland students needing a ride and is on standby for a call to come in.

Ashley and Blaser told News 2 the whole situation was “a shame” and could be avoided if the school board prioritized its employees over a new activity center.

“I don’t think the bus drivers have had a raise in years while at the same time they are putting money back for a new building that’s not even a necessity,” Ashley said.

“An expensive and unneeded expense is more important than getting our kids to school,” Blaser said of the activity center plan. “Every comment I’ve read feels the same way, but they are still pushing to build it.”

Clark also made mention of the skewed priorities.

“I just can’t see why even our bus drivers aren’t a priority,” he told News 2. “It’s kind of ridiculous. My kid’s school is fantastic. The teachers go the extra mile. Everyone is a role model and mentor.”

There will be a special-called meeting of the Franklin County School Board Tuesday, Aug. 30, at 7:30 p.m., according to McDonald.

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This is a developing story. WKRN News 2 will continue to update this article as new information becomes available.