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'It was just chaos' | CMS parents say buses are getting to and from school late, with students packed on

CMS is now offering a $1,000 recruitment bonus for bus drivers who start this school year and participate in a training class by Sept. 30.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — One week into the school year, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools is still plagued by bus woes. The district said they're facing a critical shortage of bus drivers, and parents say it's not just a headache but a health safety concern.

“I just feel like there’s got to be a better way,” said a CMS Parent, who asked WCNC Charlotte to conceal her identity.

This parent tells WCNC for her Myers Park ninth-grader, the bus is an issue.

"He’s just not feeling comfortable," the parent said.

The parent said the bus is overcrowded, and sent WCNC a text exchange between her and her son showing a line to get on the bus. In the text, her son said the bus was packed. 

According to the CMS website, high school students are supposed to sit one student to a seat. The parent said that’s not happening.

"Some of the kids are riding three to a bus [seat], there is no bus monitor to enforce whether kids are wearing their mask,” the parent said.

On top of that, the parent said there's a constant shift in drivers which her son said causes a lot of confusion.

"He said she was yelling because she didn’t know where she was going and kids were like, 'You missed my stop,' or 'My stop's coming up,' and it was just chaos,” the parent said. 

Those aren’t the only bus problems in CMS.

"The list doesn’t end,” Todd Hetrick, who has two daughters at Reedy Creek Elementary, said.

Hetrick said in past years the two have been dropped off by the bus around 3:45 p.m.

"The first day of school they got home at 5 o'clock, and I know they’ve been late to school too," Hetrick said.

CMS said they are facing a critical shortage of bus drivers. At last check, they still needed almost 80 more.

RELATED: CMS offering bonuses to newly hired employees: Here's who is eligible

"It's just not acceptable, I understand everyone wanted the kids to go back to school because I’m 100% for that, but only if we can do it safely,” the parent said.

CMS is now offering a $1,000 recruitment bonus for bus drivers who start this school year and participate in a training class by Sept. 30.

 Hetrick said in the meantime, he’ll be patient.

“I know they’re trying their best," Hetrick said of the district. "This is just a hard year for everybody I think."

WCNC has reached out to CMS about whether they are seating high school students three to a seat on the bus, if students are being made to leave class early to get onto the bus, and how many drivers they still need. As of Tuesday at 4 p.m., WCNC has not heard back.

Contact Lana Harris at lharris@wcnc.com and follow her on FacebookTwitter and on Instagram.  

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