Durham Public Schools (DPS) announced that classrooms would be open to students on Tuesday after two consecutive days of transportation employees calling out. This decision comes after no classes took place on Monday due to ongoing callouts related to pay issues among some employees.
The district revealed that out of approximately 45 staff members responsible for maintaining the 150 buses used in DPS, only five worked on Friday and six showed up on Monday. These employees, including mechanics, fleet supervisors, and area managers, play a crucial role in ensuring the buses are operational each morning as required by state law.
During an unrelated event on Monday, Governor Roy Cooper expressed frustration over the situation at DPS and emphasized the urgency of resolving the issue. He encouraged swift action and highlighted the need for increased investment in public schools.
Monday marked the first day on the job for recently-named DPS Interim Superintendent Catty Moore. However, for parents, it felt like a repeat of Friday’s situation, with children kept out of the classroom. Concerns are growing among parents about students falling behind academically due to missed instructional time, particularly with important end-of-grade tests looming.
Some parents, like Donna Smith and Emily Coleman, have voiced their concerns about the impact of school closures on their children’s education and well-being. Smith questioned the district’s spending priorities, suggesting that funds allocated for severance packages and superintendent salaries could be redirected to address the pay issues faced by staff.
Chris Gaston, another parent in the Durham school system, expressed support for better compensation for all staff members, including teachers, cafeteria workers, and bus drivers. He emphasized the importance of adequately compensating those who contribute to the education and well-being of students.
Despite the ongoing challenges, DPS has not initiated discussions about seeking assistance from nearby districts or municipalities to address the shortage of transportation support employees.
DPS Interim Superintendent Catty Moore, who was not available for comment on Monday, expressed her commitment to the Durham Public Schools community and stated her focus on ensuring students’ success amidst the ongoing challenges.