Bus drivers angry with board

Published 12:00 am Saturday, August 19, 2006

Vidalia &8212; Twenty seven Concordia Parish school bus drivers met at Nikki&8217;s Restaurant Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. to discuss the privately owned school bus drivers dissatisfaction with the Concordia Parish School Board&8217;s decision to contract Durham School Services.

&8220;We came to discuss the issue concerning the school board hiring Durham and not paying us near the amount that their drivers make,&8221; president of the Concordia Parish school bus drivers association, Clarence Skipper said.

Skipper said the school board pays the Durham bus drivers $193 per day plus money for the drivers&8217; gas and repairs, while he, the private owner of a bus only gets $22,000 per year and is responsible for paying his for his own gas and repairs.

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Skipper said while the state of Louisiana refunds bus drivers 10 cents per gallon at the end of the school year, it is unfair compared to the fact the school board pays for all of the gas used by Durham employees.

Leonard Posey, the district representative for the Louisiana school bus operators association, was the key speaker at the meeting and discussed the options the bus drivers could take.

&8220;We are in the process of communicating with an attorney to see what, if any, legal actions can be taken,&8221; Posey said. &8220;We don&8217;t understand why the people who have stuck by the school board for so many years, and even through the loss, could keep going down.&8221;

Posey also said he was concerned about the money leaving the parish as a result of contracting Durham.

&8220;Whenever the school board pays the Durham company, that money goes to their main office in Illinois,&8221; Posey said. &8220;It is taking the tax dollars from Concordia Parish citizens and sending them elsewhere.&8221;

Clarence Skipper said that the Louisiana school bus drivers association is meeting Friday in Alexandria to discuss the issue further.

&8220;We hope sometime in the future we can meet with the Concordia Parish school board and Durham representatives and work out something out,&8221; Skipper said.