Wake County bus drivers open up about conditions as shortage stretches them thin

Wake County News

​RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Two Wake County school bus drivers are speaking out about the challenges the current shortage presents.

It’s something CBS 17 has been reporting on for weeks. Parents have expressed frustration with not knowing when the bus will come and their kids having longer days.

“I love what I do. I love the children,” Juneakcia Green said.

Green has been a Wake County school bus driver for 20 years.

“Sometimes these kids get on this bus. We’re their mothers, sometimes we’re their doctors, we’re even their friends, their counselors,” she explained.

She said the driver shortage has cut back on that.

Wake County Public Schools said it has 606 bus drivers and 61 permanent substitute drivers. It also has more than 100 vacancies.

School bus drivers typically have two routes a day. Because of the shortage, they said they’re doing seven or eight. They’re working more hours to get it done.

Drivers said they don’t even have time to use the bathroom.

“The kids are getting home 5:15 p.m., 5:20 p.m.,” WCPSS bus driver Zachary Campbell said.

Campbell explained that late drop-offs are commonplace.

Then there’s the issue of buses with no AC.

“I’ve personally called in a couple of days for heat exhaustion,” Campbell said. “I was dizzy, I was nauseous. I had a splitting headache.”

The district confirmed it’s a problem.

Officials also said they have a shortage of bus maintenance workers as 31 of the 80 positions are vacant. They’ve hired a contractor, but they’ve only provided one technician.

“The heat gets to me every day. I have asthma,” Green said.

These drivers said to fill those remaining positions, they need to pay more.

The district said it offers between $15 and $23 per hour.

“These drivers are expected to show up and pick these children up with a big smile on their face, not knowing how they’re going to make ends meet,” Green said.

Green said state lawmakers need to provide more funding for public schools. Both will be joining the North Carolina Association of Educators for a press conference at the General Assembly on Friday.

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