Bus driver shortage leads to tiered transport plan for schools

Starmount students getting off the bus to return to class in 2021. Bus driver shortages are effecting this year's bus schedule, school leaders have said.  (File photo: August 2021)
Starmount students getting off the bus to return to class in 2021. Bus driver shortages are effecting this year’s bus schedule, school leaders have said. (File photo: August 2021)

Back to school season is just around the corner and there will be changes to the transportation times for students, due to a shortage of bus drivers.

Yadkin Early College students will return to their classrooms on Aug. 15. The remaining Yadkin schools will resume on Aug. 29 though start and end times for school have not yet been finalized.

“This year, we will be implementing a tiered bus route schedule,” explained Yadkin Superintendent Todd Martin. “This means that many of our buses will run elementary routes, and then they will run middle and high school routes. This will significantly reduce the number of buses that are needed to transport students. We are doing this because we simply do not have enough drivers and don’t have other options.”

“If school began today, we would be short ten drivers,” Martin said on Tuesday. “A bus class was held last month, and only one person went through the class who plans to drive for Yadkin. This is a common problem across North Carolina. Many districts do not have enough bus drivers, and they are struggling to find people who are willing to go through the process to get the appropriate license to drive a school bus.”

Martin said the elementary schools are likely to begin around 7:30 am with middle and high schools beginning around 8:40 am

“The exact times have not yet been determined because bus routes have not been finalized. However, our transportation staff is working very hard to route our buses. Schools will be in contact with parents about start and end times once the routes are finalized,” he said.

As preparations are underway for the return to school, a local church is doing what it can to support teachers. Yadkinville United Methodist Church is collecting donations for wish list items from a number of local teachers.

Martin said he is grateful for teachers and the work they do, including sometimes their personal resources for classrooms supplies.

“Educators in Yadkin, across our state, and this nation have purchased school supplies for their students. I have known teachers to buy paper, pencils, crayons, books, and other supplies to ensure that all students have what they need for school. In Yadkin, we have always tried to allocate resources to our teachers and schools to alleviate teachers using their own money to buy supplies. At the same time, our teachers are dedicated to their students and they want to ensure that students have everything they need. As superintendent, I am grateful that we have teachers in each of our schools who are willing to spend their own money for their students,” Martin said.

To view the teacher wish lists visit yadkinvilleumc.org/teacher-wishlists