GUILFORD COUNTY, N.C. — Guilford County is home to the third largest school district in the state. That means tens of thousands of students need to be bused back and forth from school. With 544 routes and 50 to 60 buses without drivers, tardiness has become common and parents of fed up.
Several Guilford County parents had plenty to say on social media about the long wait times their children deal with at bus stops.
“The bus was arriving here 20, 30, 40 and sometimes even 45 minutes late,” said Danielle Cureton, a parent.
Cureton’s children are supposed to be picked up around 7:45 a.m. to head to Western Guilford Middle School, but she said that hasn’t happened consistently in almost two years.
“The school accommodated by making sure the kids have breakfast every morning, but they were missing the same core class every week,” Cureton said.
Missing chunks of class time is a big issue for her and her kids. Also, standing out in the cold and heat for long periods of time waiting on the bus is something she’s not happy about.
“My kids and some of the others that wait here at the bus stop sit inside my house to wait for the bus,” she said.
Guilford County Schools Transportation Director Jeff Harris blamed the problem on a driver shortage that he said is a national issue. He said some drivers have to run multiple routes each day. He also added that the cold and flu season is keeping driver’s in bed and not on the road.
“That accounts for some daily absences that are uncontrollable,” Harris said.
“So our goal is to get as many applicants as we can, filter through those, choose 20-25 of our best qualified applicants have them go through the tutorial session that way they’re successful passing the test,” he said.
He said he hears the concerns of the parents and wants everyone to know they’re doing their best to keep everyone updated on what’s happening.
The transportation department’s next class will be in March, so they’re asking all interested to apply. They’re also making arrangements to provide a better class time. That way more people can attend.