Some bus drivers for Dallas County Schools vented their frustration at administrators Wednesday after learning their pay and benefits may be slashed as the century-old agency struggles to recover from a financial mess.
The DCS Board is trying to close a gap on a huge budget deficit that put the agency in danger of collapse, but drivers said they shouldn't be forced to pay for the bad decisions made by administrators.
DCS said they're considering cutting holiday pay and bonuses given for attendance. Ultimately, the board made no decisions about cuts to pay or benefits Wednesday, but said they'll study the issues further before making a decision at a future board meeting.
"We understand if the budget has to be cut; we think you need to start from the top and not the bottom," said John Lester, DCS driver.
The agency is projected to end the fiscal year with a $20 million budget deficit and massive debts from a school bus camera program that tanked the agency's finances.
"By them doing what they done it's caused a lot of families to suffer, and I'm one of them," said Samuel Cox, a DCS driver for the last six years.
Cox said it's wrong for management to ask drivers to pick up the tab for mistakes made by their bosses.
"I come to work every day and they're going to do us like that? I don't think so," Cox said.
Interim superintendent Leatha Mullins said she's trying to avoid any cuts that impact the drivers.
"I totally hear their voice. It's hurting everybody in this family," said Mullins, who took over after the crisis erupted and the previous superintendent, Rick Sorrells, was forced to step down. "The drivers and the monitors are the heart of this organization, so we are taking this very seriously," Mullins said.
Drivers, meanwhile, face the possibility that their jobs could be eliminated in the fall. The Texas state legislature passed a bill that will allow Dallas County voters to decide in November whether to shut down DCS due to financial mismanagement.
"Everybody worried about our jobs. We don't know if we are going or coming you know?" Cox said.