CLAYTON COUNTY, Ga. - School buses not showing up: Not ideal, right? One family in Douglas County told Channel 2 Action News it's putting their daughters' safety at risk.
Parent Andrew Williams, whose daughters attend Chapel Hill High School, said it's a problem that's only grown worse in the Douglas County School District. He said his daughters' bus, which is usually late, did not show up at all Thursday.
"They've missed a day of school now, and on another occasion previous to this, they missed half of their first period class," Williams' wife, Susan Foley, said.
Williams and Foley work in the mornings, and they rely on the buses to get their daughters to school.
"It's frustrating. It's like, you lose focus at work," Foley said.
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A "Bus Drivers Needed" sign Channel 2's Justin Wilfon found at the district's bus lot sums up the problem: The district needs more employees to operate the buses.
The Douglas County director of transportation said the district has six vacant positions, with 13 more drivers missing work right now for other reasons.
In a statement he said:
"Douglas County Transportation is not immune to the nationwide bus driver shortage. While the vast majority of our bus riders are not experiencing any challenges, we are working hard to ensure every child arrives at school on time and ready to learn."
The Williams family hopes speaking out on the issue will help the district find more drivers soon.
They believe their daughters' safety depends on it.
"If something happened, and we hadn't made a call to you or made a call to the repeated things, then how would we sleep at night?" Williams said.
The drivers get paid $15.82 an hour. The district is hiring substitutes to fill in the gaps.
Here's the full statement from director of transportation E.W. Tolbert:
Douglas County Transportation is not immune to the nationwide bus driver shortage. Currently, we have 6 vacant positions, 9 drivers out on Family Medical Leave and 4 drivers on Workers Compensation. To ensure these routes are covered, we have been utilizing substitute drivers on a full time basis and doubling bus routes.
To combat these issues, the department is doing the following:
Late Bus Information is posted twice a day on the DCSS website under the Transportation link.
Douglas County School System introduced the Here Comes the Bus school bus tracking app. Although there have been setbacks with the app's introduction, most of our community has established an account and currently benefiting from the app.
The Transportation Department offers a monthly bus driver training class to hire drivers to run routes safely and efficiently.
Our department's main priority is safely transporting more than 15,000 students to and from school every day. While the vast majority of our bus riders are not experiencing any challenges, we understand the frustration of some members of the community. We are working hard to ensure every child arrives at school on time and ready to learn.
We are actively recruiting new bus drivers to join our team with a driver in training starting pay of $15.82 an hour. Benefits are available the month following 30 days of employment. For information on how to join our team, call 770-651-2400 or visit www.dcssga.org.
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