RALEIGH, NC (WNCN) — In a traffic update Tuesday, Wake County Public Schools takes a look at the challenges facing the 2021-22 school year and what to expect for bus driver families in the district as this school year begins soon.
The update lists the need to eliminate 76 routes to accommodate the driver shortages facing the school system, which has a projected roster of 560 bus drivers and 55 full-time temporary workers. According to the school board, last year (as of August 3) 106 drivers were resigned, while only 64 new hires were made in the same period.
Out of a total of 76 clearing targets, 52 have already been removed. Routes have also been stretched, with some students arriving five minutes before the first bell instead of 15 minutes before.
The school system said the number of drivers has dropped significantly since 2014, when it employed more than 900 available drivers. This decline, observed since 2014, has only been exacerbated or exacerbated by labor shortages caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the update said.
“We have significantly increased bus driver pay, including offering sign-on bonuses, and we continue to host frequent recruitment events, but progress towards hiring more drivers remains slow,” WCPSS said in a statement.
Rather, the school system has said there are enough drivers for the 584 planned routes for this school year, but operations may have implications such as more buses at or near capacity.
Other effects on bus drivers can include:
- Longer travel times;
- More buses that have to make two separate trips in the morning and/or afternoon;
- Some students have to arrive as early as 40 minutes before the school day starts;
- In the afternoon, some students may have to wait at school for their bus to complete its first trip before it can return to pick up passengers for its second trip. (Schools will be prepared to accommodate students who arrive early or who need to stay late);
- Some buses may not be able to run at all on any given day if too many drivers are absent. Schools and parents will be notified as soon as possible if this is the case.
For parents of WCPSS students, the district provided some tips on what can be done to help, including:
- Be sure to check the bus route information for your student, which will be shared with traditional calendar families later this week;
- Everyone is strongly encouraged to sign up for the Here Comes the Bus app, which allows you to track your student’s bus in real time. It helps take the guesswork out of when the bus will arrive at your stop.
- Visit wcpss.net/herecomesthebus to learn more and download the app. It only takes a few minutes;
- You can also visit wcpss.net/busupdates and click on your child’s school. Any delays will be listed there;
- If you do not wish to use the bus service this year, please let us know at wcpss.net/declinebus.
https://www.cbs17.com/news/local-news/wake-county-news/wake-county-schools-cutting-76-routes-to-address-bus-driver-shortage-for-school-year/ Wake County schools are cutting 76 routes to address bus driver shortages for the school year