CHARLOTTE, N.C. (FOX 46 CHARLOTTE) – Parents in one neighborhood are taking turns as “bus drivers” because their kids’ bus keeps showing up late.
Parents are scrambling to get their kids to school on time. They say the school bus is running so late that they have to pile the neighborhood kids in the car and miss work meetings just to get their students to school in the morning.
The clock is ticking.
It’s 8:30 a.m. The bus for Bradley Middle School should be stopping at the intersection of Henderson Hill Road and Strattonville Court in Huntersville.
“Are they going to get breakfast? Are they going to miss anything in school? Are they going to be able to put their stuff away?” asked Michele Beeson, a parent of a 7th grader.
Just over a week ago, the bus was involved in an accident near the school and every morning since then, parents in the Cedarfield II neighborhood say the bus is so late that they don’t have time to wait on it.
“It’s almost scary like, ‘Ok, what are we going to do? How are we going to get the kids to school today?” asked Beeson.
At 8:50 a.m., the bus is running 20 minutes late, and so are the parents.
One of them has to skip out on work and be the “neighborhood bus driver” to get the students to school.
“We have jobs. It’s not something we’re supposed to have to do. I’m supposed to be at work, I start work at 7:30 or 8:00. It’s very frustrating to have to leave my job or maybe miss meetings or miss important work to have to go do a job that CMS is supposed to be doing,” said Michele’s husband, Chuck Beeson.
At 9 a.m., the bus finally arrives. The parents say the bus is 30 minutes late.
“This is the first stop on the route, so if they do arrive here at 9 or 9:15, there’s no way they’re going to get to school in time,” said Chuck Beeson.
And timing is critical.
“Being in school is extremely important for him and also to us as parents for him to be in a place where he’s going to get the best education,” said Michele Beeson.
CMS started the school year short on bus drivers.
The district is offering a $1,000 recruitment bonus for all new drivers starting work this school year who complete a training class by September 30, 2021.
CMS sent FOX 46 the following statement:
“CMS Transportation makes every effort to run on schedule. They work quickly to identify late buses and make the necessary adjustments. Hiring has been a challenge both here and across the country. They are in a highly competitive job market and the district has enhanced recruitment efforts since March of 2021.
However, transportation has 43 vacancies and 48 on approved leave. Average daily absences are in the thirties, which equates to having to cover about 143 buses. At this time, a 30-minute delay is not unusual. They are checking on what could have been the cause for the delays at Bradley Middle.
The area transportation office contacts the schools with the delayed buses with approximate timing. The schools then communicate this to parents. CMS Transportation is asking families for additional patience and understanding as they continue to hire drivers and make the necessary adjustments to the routes.“