UNION COUNTY, N.C. — Union County Public Schools held a job fair Thursday to fill a variety of positions, including 50 bus drivers to address a shortage this school year.
In an attempt to lure potential bus driver candidates, the district has increased starting pay for all drivers to $16.75 an hour from $13.87. All bus drivers who work at least 30 hours per week are eligible for full-time benefits.
Union County Public Schools also said it will offer semi-annual bonuses for bus drivers. The district is also looking to fill vacancies for school nutrition, afterschool programs, and teachers.
"For my kids. My kids need to get to school, and we need drivers, so I felt it was important for my County." said bus driver Trenton Duncan. "The people are being nice to me so get out here, come work."
The bus driver shortage has impacted schools across the Carolinas this year.
Earlier this month, a rally was held outside the General Assembly building in Raleigh where school bus drivers demanded better pay from legislators in the state budget. The North Carolina Association of Educators would like to see a minimum pay rate for drivers be raised to $15 per hour.
Neighboring Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools raised its hourly pay for bus drivers to $15.75 per hour to help fill vacancies.
Lancaster County School District has filed their open bus driver vacancies.
The WCNC Charlotte Verify team found nearly 78% of school districts surveyed by HopSkipDrive, a Los Angeles-based organization that helps find safe transportation solutions for children, are constrained by bus driver shortages. That same survey found 81% of respondent school districts reported COVID-19 as the cause of short staffing.