Linda Barrett has driven buses for two decades. She says to do it that long, you have to love it.
“Carrying these kids to school, I find that is the best precious cargo there is,” Barrett said.
The veteran driver admits her last year at Dallas County Schools has been turbulent.
“We don’t really know what’s going to happen,” Barrett said. “They want to know and they should know.”
Voters decided Tuesday to end the bus agency after reported financial mismanagement.
Now, as nine school districts work to figure out how they’ll provide transportation for the 2018-19 school year and beyond, Barrett says uncertainty reigns for remaining drivers.
“They’re losing them, they are walking out.”
Barrett, who represents drivers, said she did not have a specific figure, but said some drivers have quit or retired since the vote last week. Barrett says she plans to gather colleagues on Tuesday calling on Dallas ISD to provide more clarity about the future for bus drivers.
Dallas ISD is the largest customer for DCS.
The morning after the vote, DISD superintendent Michael Hinojosa said DCS leadership is on the way out but wanted to calm concerns for rank and file bus drivers, monitors and dispatchers.
“All of those employees will be needed for the balance of the school year,” Hinojosa said. “They’re highly needed for the next several months.”
The first step to dismantle the bus agency for nine area school districts starts next week.
A newly formed "dissolution committee" meets for the first time on Wednesday.
Dale Kaiser with the National Education Association says he knows when the school year ends, so do the assurances of jobs that some drivers have had for decades.
“There’s a lot of really good people who’ve worked here at Dallas County Schools,” Kaiser said. “They’re still here, they’re not bailing out.”
Barrett says her goal is to make sure remaining drivers keep doing their best, but worries driver shortages could worsen before the school year ends next June.
“I would hope that DISD would do right by these drivers,” Barrett said.