GREENSBORO, N.C. — Shelby Moore has been driving a school bus for 22 years. She thinks it’s an honor to take children to school every day.
“We have their lives in our hands. Our goal is to transport them safely and it’s a big responsibility,” Moore said.
The government takes the responsibility seriously too. That’s why earning certification to become a bus driver is difficult.
First, the North Carolina Department of Transportation verifies your driving and criminal records. Then you enroll in a required, three-day school bus driving training class. On the last day, you take four tests. To pass, you must earn a score of 80 or higher.
The tests are based on a 167-page commercial driver license manual.
Guilford County Schools found many applicants weren’t passing the tests.
That’s why the Director of Transportation Jeff Harris started offering tutoring sessions to help.
“We give them some study tips and some study guides go through the manual as much as we can,” Harris said.
GCS saw improvement and next month will add an incentive.
If an applicant who takes the tutoring classes is hired by GCS, they will be paid for the time they spent in the tutoring sessions.
“We would love to hire 100 bus drivers,” Harris said.
But becoming a bus driver doesn’t end with passing the four exams.
“It’s a commercial license at the end of it. You need to understand it. These big vehicles are more dangerous they need to be more stringent,” said Cindy Little, with NCDOT
After you receive the permit, you continue to behind-the-wheel testing. It includes certified training from the state.
You must also pass a medical exam and drug and background checks.
The training is free, but it takes time that applicants aren’t paid for.
In fact, you pay at least $60 in fees for the license.
The job you’re trying to get? A bus driver for GCS makes $12.50 an hour.
“We’re paying drivers $12.50 an hour now, but is that enough compared to the amount of responsibility? And I would say no,” Harris said.
In the last two years, the pay has increased from $11.75 an hour.
Harris hopes that continues but it’s complicated because of efficiency standards set by the General Assembly.
88 percent of transportation directors who responded to a survey from the National Association for Pupil Transportation said low pay was a major factor in recruiting school bus drivers.
If you are interested in learning about becoming a bus driver, here’s more information: