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MCCSC bus drivers: bus system 'in flames,' work environment is toxic

An mccsc school bus

((WFIU/WTIU News))

MCCSC bus drivers say they are overwhelmed and burned out. Some are complaining about a toxic work environment at MCCSC.

Rocky Laster attended Tuesday night’s MCCSC Board of Trustees meeting with a couple other bus drivers to bring attention to what he describes as a bus system “in flames.”

READ MORE: MCCSC bus issues leave parents, children on the curb

“The drivers feel disrespected, unappreciated and afraid,” Laster said. “There's a climate of intimidation and fear that permeates our department. Many drivers have left because of this.”

According to Laster, over 40 bus drivers have left the system in the last year and more are actively looking for other jobs.

He said drivers are being stretched too thin and asked to drive multiple, unfamiliar routes, creating safety concerns. And while the corporation is working to upgrade bus technology and efficiency by summer, drivers still feel their concerns are going unheard. Many of the issues they voiced Tuesday night have been ongoing since the beginning of the school year nearly six months ago.

READ MORE: MCCSC bus drivers: ‘We’re at our breaking point’

“We understand that the superintendent is extremely busy, but an entire department of this corporation is in flames,” Laster said. “We beseech you to come spend just one day with us next door at the bus lot.”

Superintendent Jeff Hauswald said MCCSC took bus driver concerns into consideration as they bargained for a new contract with the union that represents the drivers. The MCCSC board approved that 2022-2023 contract during Tuesday’s meeting.

“We will continue the discussion,” Hauswald said after the meeting. “We want to create a culture and a climate that is inclusive and that celebrates and recognizes the hard work our bus drivers do.”

Laster declined to expand when asked about the “culture of intimidation” he referenced.

During public comment, he requested bus drivers be allotted 10 minutes at the next school board meeting to fully explain their concerns.

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