Aiken County schools continue to struggle with bus driver shortage

Published: Nov. 22, 2021 at 6:46 PM EST|Updated: Nov. 22, 2021 at 7:05 PM EST
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AIKEN, S.C. (WRDW/WAGT) - While the kids are home from school this week, our local school districts are still at work searching for more bus drivers.

It’s been three weeks since some counties started incentives to try and bring more people in. Now we’re looking at where we stand now.

On Nov. 1, Aiken County Public Schools held a hiring event for bus drivers. The school district had almost 70 vacancies at that time. Incentives brought in 27 people, but there are still four open spots. For parents, it’s frustrating dealing with this ongoing issue.

It’s an early wake-up call to get out the door to catch your bus for school.

“The pickup time is at like 7:15,” said Amy Ferrer, Aiken County parent.

Most students find themselves waiting over and over again not knowing if their bus will show up.

“Sometimes it doesn’t even come. We’ve had two instances where it never came,” said Ferrer.

It’s been a struggle to keep up with her child’s bus schedule.

“For parents that work and don’t have a way to take them back and forth to school its a struggle. Especially if they miss the bus we have to find out how to get them to school,” she said.

At the beginning of November, Aiken County schools had a hiring event looking for more bus drivers. They had around 70 open positions.

“Since the pandemic, it is worse. It’s more extreme. We’re trying different avenues to get those positions hire,” said Rashad Roland, South Aiken Area Transportation Supervisor.

Roland has been in transportation for eight years.

“This year has been a struggle. I haven’t seen it like this in the last couple of years. This year has been one of the hardest,” he said.

They’ve had 27 people apply – but they still have 41 open positions.

“They’re actually working doubles, triples, and sometimes even quad routes to get our students to and from school safely. They’re working long hours, more than what they’ve ever done, in the past,” said Roland.

And people who apply don’t instantly get to drive. It takes about six weeks to get people started. Their current fleet of drivers will continue to push through until backup comes.

“We just continue working at it and getting the job done and getting our students to and from school safely,” he said.

If you’re interested in becoming a bus driver for Aiken County, visit Aiken County Public Schools Student Transportation Support where you can scroll through the list of different openings available.

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