Chapel Hill, NC (WNCN) – Like other districts, the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City School District kicked off the new school year this week with not enough bus drivers, so CBS 17 decided to talk to a driver of over two decades to see why she drives.
Jannai Rodgers has been on the job driving the big yellow school bust for over 20 years. She loves it!
“This is a way for me to have more kids without having them at home, too. I just love children. I love being around them,” said Rodgers.
She said the work schedule is flexible and that she was able to drive her daughter to school when she started years ago. Her day starts at around 6 in the morning then she has a break around 9 a.m. after she drops off the kids at school.
“If you don’t want to work weekends you don’t have to, but there’s always an opportunity for other work,” said Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools bus driver Jannai Rodgers.
She said she also enjoys signing up for field trips, too.
“I think it’s easy for moms, those who are retired from the job they’ve been at for years, or even students,” said Rodgers.
Learning to maneuver the big bus discouraged her at one point, but she said once you get used to the big mirrors, anyone can do it. She zips around town with no problem.
Brad Johnson, Director of Transportation of Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools, said he’s down 26 drivers.
“That’s a tremendous decrease in the number of buses that will be serving the same amount of students,” said Johnson.
The North Carolina Department of Divison Motor Vehicles trains bus drivers statewide. It requires in the classroom and on the road work. New drivers must pass four tests with an 80 or better.
“It’s approximately an 8-day period, but because of the shortages with the division of motor vehicles and the demand for bus drivers, the process can take up to two months from application to completion,” said Johnson.
The NCDMV takes into account a person’s driving record and medical history when certifying bus drivers.
Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools transportation director Brad Johnson said they’re offering a $4,000 signing bonus to new drivers and then a $1,000 perfect attendance bonus per semester.
“It is absolutely the worst I’ve seen it, and I’ve been doing this for 26 years,” said Johnson.
Many of his drivers retired during the pandemic. He said they’re also competing with companies in the area, such as Amazon, for delivery drivers.
If you are interested in becoming a bus driver for Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools then give them a call. The district will pay for training fees.