Many students depend on buses to get to school and back everyday. But several counties are struggling to find enough drivers to run those routes.
In Kanawha County, bus terminal supervisors in Elkview and East Bank said they are in a challenging situation. A flood of recent retirements and having several employees out on sick leave has created a shortage of drivers. There aren't enough substitutes cover those routes.
"I am begging for substitute drivers," said Sandy Burdette, the supervisor at the East Bank bus terminal. "I don't want to have to tell parents I don't have a driver that can come and pick their child."
Peggy Whitacre is the supervisor at the Elkview terminal. "I have mechanics and clerks driving and it is very hectic," she said.
There are seven open positions in East Bank. Elkview is in a slightly better situation. At both facilities the people who are supposed to be repairing the buses, maintaining the bus cameras and answer phones are having to drive instead.
Both supervisors said people are applying for the positions, but many never end up getting behind the wheel.
"We have random and pre-employment drug testing and that seems to lose some right there," Whitacre said. "They have to have clear background checks and we lose several there also."
Burdette said staffing shortages now are the worst she can recall in her career. It is a situation causing problems that reach beyond the bus terminal.
"It makes the kids be late for school," Burdette said. Noting that the shortage is causing an inconvenience for students and their families. "Mom and dad are sitting there at that stop and they have to go on to work and if I have had to double up on a run then that is making them late for work.But it is better for them to be late for school than not get there at all."
If you would like to apply for one of the bus driver positions visit kcs.kana.k12.wv.us
You can also call 348-1991 or 595-4359 for additional information.