Oliver said the driver sickout was part of a larger movement of education workers across the country working for better conditions for themselves and their students, after years of underfunding. In February, Gov. Nathan Deal pushed to end a school funding deficit after more than a decade of austerity cuts. For transportation, state funding once covered half the districts' costs; now, the state covers about 15 percent.
More drivers support efforts to “Reinstate the 8,” as the movement is called, but were hesitant to show their faces.
“They’re scared,” said Melanie Douglas, a bus driver fired last week. She said Green “used a bullying tactic to get people back to work. For some households, this is the only money coming in.”
Efforts should be made to address bus driver pay concerns, she said, noting Green's line that drivers are the first and last to see students on their daily education journeys.
“This district is top-heavy,” said Joel Edwards of Restore DeKalb, which advocates for elected official accountability. “The money is not funneling down to the workers.”