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WSFCS use billboards to help fill bus driver shortage

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- It’s doesn’t matter what direction you go, on U.S. 52 in Winston-Salem, you’ll see huge rectangles with a message.

“You know, we’ve tried it,” said Darrell Taylor, executive director of transportation for Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools.

Those rectangles are billboards -- that got Taylor thinking outside of the box.

“We started that [using billboards] in the month of July and August. It has really been a help to us, we’ve probably gotten 90-100 applications from people that mentioned they saw the openings on the billboard,” said Taylor.

At the beginning of the summer, there were 51 full-time bus driver vacancies. However, the number has dwindled down to 28.

“Some say they’ve never thought about driving a bus before and some people are honest. They’ll come through training... like last year, we had some that drove maybe a week and they just said driving a bus is not for us,” Taylor said.

So with the start of the school year, those 28 vacancies can be an uphill battle. Last school year, drivers clocked in over 6.4 million miles.

“Routes will have to be adjusted to accommodate because we had 38,300 students sign up to ride the bus this year,” said Taylor. "So people are doing everything they can to think of how to attract bus drivers.”

As Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools try and fill their vacancies, Guilford County Schools has 40 jobs open, while Alamance-Burlington School System has 26 openings. ABSS also has 21 substitute bus driver jobs open.