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Transportation for first day of school up in air as bus drivers reject contract

Kyle Kurlick for Chalkbeat

Shelby County Schools leaders are scrambling to find backup plans to get students to school Monday after more than 150 bus drivers voted to reject the contract they had been offered. The 300 Durham School Services drivers impacted by the contract have threatened to go on strike if a deal isn’t reached before Monday.

Members of the local teamsters union say they are hoping that Durham School Services will sit down and listen to their concerns this weekend, according to the Commercial Appeal.

“The drivers voted it down by a large margin,” Aaron Belk, the Teamsters office manager told the Commercial Appeal.

Now the district is making contingency plans.

“We are confident that Durham and the Teamsters will continue to negotiate until there is an agreement,” school board president Kevin Woods told the Commercial Appeal. “In the unlikely event no agreement is reached, we are working through transportation contingency plans.”

Shelby County Schools issued a statement late Friday that said, “It is disappointing and we urge the individuals involved in this dispute to recognize the unnecessary impact this may cause the 150,000-plus students and families across this community. We hope this matter can be resolved quickly and without disruption to our students and the start of the school year.”

The district said schools will still be open Monday.

One of the union’s grievances is that the four new bus lots in suburban Shelby County are not unionized.

The municipalities issued a joint statement Friday night that said, “While we are disappointed in the outcome of this particular vote, we are hopeful that progress will be made over the weekend. At this time we are not clear if a potential strike will affect bus routes in the municipal districts. However, we encourage all families to establish back-up plans if a strike does take place and our buses are not operating.”

For updates on this issue over the weekend, follow us on Twitter.

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