School districts battle with bus driver shortages

Published: Aug. 21, 2023 at 8:07 PM EDT
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GREENVILLE, N.C. (WITN) - Only one week remains until the start of a new school year for many students here in Eastern North Carolina, but many school districts are still struggling to find enough bus drivers in time.

The first day of classes is right around the corner, but several counties including Pitt and Onslow are experiencing bus driver shortages.

However, these counties are presenting alternative ways to get every student to school efficiently and on time.

With only a week to go until the school bells ring, the Pitt County Board of Education gathered Monday for a workshop session.

On the agenda was dealing with bus driver shortages.

Pitt county assistant superintendent of human resources, Kristi Rhone said, “I think it has a lot to do with choice now. that covid has allowed us to do is reflect on what is important in life for some people and people have realized that they don’t have to continue doing the work they were doing before covid.”

School administrators say they won’t let the problem impact students.

Instead, they’re recruiting part-time teacher assistants, custodians, and other employees to pull double duty as bus drivers and offering them an extra monetary bonus to help out.

In Onslow County, district officials are standardizing school times in order to stagger bus schedules and pick up students at multiple schools that are close together.

Brent Anderson, Onslow County Chief of Communications told WITN News, “It allows us to be more efficient with our drivers and buses and the routes we’re going to be working on. it’s going to be shorter bus times and riding times for some of our students because they won’t be on the bus nearly as long as they have been when they’re riding double routes, or they are having to wait for the buses to come back to school to pick them up in the afternoons.”

With the school year starting, drivers should expect more school buses out on the roads. With school buses, drivers should drive more cautiously, especially with stop signs on school buses while they pick up or drop off students.

School administrators across the east say the alternative solutions will help ensure that all students who want one, will have a bus to get to and from school.