Driver shortages leading to bus delays and changes at school districts in the Carolinas

·3 min read

There’s a shortage of school bus drivers in many areas across the country, and now at least two local school districts are adjusting their plans for bus routes due to not having enough staff.

An email sent this week to Lake Norman High School parents says five buses used to transport students won’t operate until further notice. The district cites the ongoing bus driver shortage as the reason behind the decision.

Monday is the first day of school in Lake Norman, but the district said it’s working to find “creative solutions” to address the routes.

Meanwhile, parents at other Iredell-Statesville schools are concerned that they’ll be affected as well, as Coddle Creek Elementary School shares buses with Lake Norman High School.

MORE: Shortages hit CMS as teacher, school bus driver absences mount

“The impact is so much larger than just, ‘Sorry for the inconvenience.’ How are you going to get your kid to school?” said Deanna Ewer.

“It started at the high school, but we all share buses,” said Denise McHugh. “So that’s going to trickle down now.”

Lake Norman High School isn’t alone. A few days ago, district leaders in Lancaster County asked for parents to be patient as the district worked to fill about seven vacant driver positions. The same story has happened in Cabarrus and Union Counties, along with the Clover School District.

At the same time, Hickory Public Schools, just northwest of Lake Norman, let parents know that there may be bus delays next week because of the driver shortage.

RELATED: Lancaster County Schools leaders ask for patience in filling school bus driver positions

According to Hickory Superintendent Dr. Bryan Taylor, the district still needs to hire four more bus drivers by Monday. Those drivers will have three routes each at the high school, middle school, and elementary level.

“We do have contingency plans in place but those contingency plans will impact our schedule and will impact arrival and departure times for some of our students,” Taylor said.

Earlier this week, the district in Hickory raised the pay for new bus drivers to $17 an hour, along with a $1,500 bonus after six months.

In Cabarrus County, a parent at one school got a call from their child saying they were dropped off at a different school with no bus to take them home.

Jim Ewer said it happened to his son on his first day of eighth grade at the Brawley School. His son called and said he was left at Woodland Heights Middle School, and Ewer said they had to scramble to get him home.

“Do we send an Uber for an eighth grader? You know, I don’t want to do that, but how do you just abandon kids like that with no communication at all?” Ewer said.

The district says they’re working to resolve the bus issues, but that it all stems from the widespread shortage of bus drivers.

“We’ve offered incentives, raised pay and asked for assistance from the community. Our current drivers are all driving double routes,” said Boen Nutting, Ed.D, the chief of strategic planning and student services for Iredell-Statesville schools.

The districts say anyone who wants to become part of the solution can apply to be a bus driver by applying online.

(WATCH BELOW: Bus delays possible at Hickory Public Schools due to shortage of drivers)