Mom frustrated with delays caused by bus driver shortage

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — The bus driver shortage in New Hanover County is beginning to effect the routes.

Parents are concerned about the buses being delayed and sometimes not showing up at all.

Jeannie Mayes waits for the bus every morning with her special needs son, Nic.

Nic has down syndrome and is in the Transition Program for Young Adults. He typically waits for the bus for about an hour. She says it’s not unusual for it to be running so late. Because of that, his mother has to take him to school causing her to be late for work most days.

“I’m over an hour late pretty much every day,” Mayes said.

Luckily, Mayes says she has a boss who is understanding of the issue, but not every parent has this luxury.

“They don’t have the option to miss work,” she said. “They have to leave their children.”

Children left standing alone at the bus stop is a concern of its own, but with temperatures beginning to drop it’s an even bigger issue.

“Now that it’s getting cold, these kids do not need to be standing outside for an hour waiting on the school bus by themselves,” she said.

She says buses are not only picking up late, they are dropping off late as well.

“The parents are calling the teachers, trying to figure out where their kids are,” she said.

Mayes believes better communication with parents when there are delays and hiring more drivers could help fix the problem.

Earlier this month, the county voted to raise the starting salary for bus drivers in hopes to combat the shortage.

As of November 6, the school district was in need of 20 additional school bus drivers.

New Hanover County Schools released the following statement:

“New Hanover County Schools continues to look into ways to recruit and retain bus drivers. The shortage of qualified bus drivers for the school system is not felt just in New Hanover County but is a shortage the entire state of North Carolina is facing. Currently, the district has six vacancies, this is in addition to a daily absence of nearly nine percent. Due to the shortages and absences routes have to be doubled, this leads to late busses. New Hanover County Schools has increased the starting pay for bus drivers to $14.00 per hour, our current bus drivers will average a nearly 3% raise. In order to recruit more bus drivers to fill our vacancies and substitute positions we are expanding advertising of vacant bus driver positions; creating community partnerships wherever possible to fill part-time and full- time positions; hiring candidates as monitors during the training and CDL certification process; expediting the CDL process; and of course increasing pay for our bus drivers. In addition to this, all of our drivers have the opportunity for full-time employment with benefits.”

Categories: Local, New Hanover

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