JACKSONVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) – As staffing shortages continue to impact just about every industry, school districts across Eastern North Carolina are working to combat bus driver shortages.  

Onslow County Schools officials say they’re heading into this school year about 25% short when it comes to bus drivers. They worry this will impact staff, students and parents. As workers at the Onslow County Bus Garage get the buses ready for the upcoming school year, OCS has been hard at work trying to recruit drivers.  

“This year, normally, when we’re staffed, we have approximately 225 bus drivers. But we’re approximately 50 short this year,” said chief operating officer for OCS, Steve Myers. 

This is going to cause some problems for them. 

“This year, because we’re going to have to combine routes. And we’re also going to have to do some ‘stop and goes’ where we take one load of students home and then come back to pick up another load. We could see transportation times double in many situations,” said Myers.  

Myers explained the wait time could be up to two hours for students to get home. 

“Some of the routes are going to be a little bit longer this year until we get more drivers,” said Myers.  

They’re currently offering $16 an hour with a $2,500 sign-on bonus to fill these open positions. 

“We’re seeing some people come in, but we’re not seeing enough yet,” said Myers.  

They’re also offering bus driver classes. But with that process taking anywhere from 4-12 weeks, they hope to get applicants in soon.  

“We have approximately 6 to 10 candidates that we’re trying to get hired. And some of them passed the written exam already. And we’re in the process of getting them processed so we can get them through the queue so they can get on the road,” said Myers. 

They have been rotating the sign-up for classes every week, so the deadline to apply for the next session will be next Friday. 

To learn more about of becoming a bus driver with Onslow County Schools, click here.