As day six of the JPS bus driver strike comes to a close, drivers attend a meeting with the Superintendent and the school board. But they say they aren't making any progress.
Wednesday's meeting began on-time, but the board immediately went into executive session and told everyone to leave the room, much to the dismay of the 75 drivers who want a voice.
"These are just information sessions that we're going to where information is disseminated, but there's no dialogue between the employees, the board or the Superintendent," says Janice Brown, who has become the spokesperson for the JPS striking bus drivers.
After about an hour-and-a-half in executive session, Dr. Cedrick Gray did address his district's drivers.
"I wanted to say how much I do appreciate and value our bus drivers, because your service is invaluable," says Dr. Gray.
But for now, Dr. Gray says their paychecks will remain the same.
"To go from an average of $45/day to $145/day, which equates to a $6 million increase, our budget cannot afford that in the middle of a school year," he says.
The Superintendent promised to meet again with the drivers to discuss their wants, but for now: "We will need you to return back to work as soon as possible," says Dr. Gray. "You're putting us in danger of dropping academic standards during this very stressful time of testing for our students."
The drivers who are on strike say they will not pick up students Thursday morning, and they don't know when they'll return to the job.
"Why get your hopes up? I have no hope at this point," says Brown.
Dr. Gray says he will meet with the drivers for an open discussion. That meeting will be announced Thursday.
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