Bus drivers plead with lawmakers for higher pay to help with shortage across the state

The North Carolina Association of Educators will gather in downtown Raleigh on Friday to call for higher pay for school bus drivers.

Posted Updated

Nia Harden
, WRAL reporter
RALEIGH, N.C. — The North Carolina Association of Educators gathered in downtown Raleigh on Friday to call for higher pay for school bus drivers.

Bus drivers and the NCAE assert the statewide shortage of drivers is largely related to pay and will press lawmakers to include a salary increase in the state budget.

The groups, which met outside the N.C. General Assembly, want bus drivers to be guaranteed at least $15 an hour. The drivers admit they aren't getting kids to school and their homes on time because of a serious shortage in drivers.

"Our buses are running consistently late," said Wake County school bus driver Juneakcia Green at the rally. "My students are often 20 minutes late to school."

In Wake County, the district has more than 100 driver vacancies. Right now, more than half of Wake County drivers are doing shared runs, meaning one driver handles multiple routes. Drivers believe the key to fixing the shortage is higher pay.

In a press release, the NCAE called for action, saying the statewide school bus driver shortage will only get worse if conditions do not improve.

"Students are not consistently getting to school on time," said Kristin Beller, president of Wake NCAE. “State lawmakers must pass a state budget that fully funds our public schools and pays our bus drivers a living wage. Clearly, our school bus driver jobs do not pay enough to recruit the number of drivers North Carolina needs to consistently get our children to school on time. Our state lawmakers have been slow to respond. They must fix this now.”

Drivers were emotional about the issues they were facing, noting it was taking a toll on them and the students they take to and from school.

"Parents will care when they start to notice their children coming home later and later more and more often," said Zac Campbell, also a Wake County school bus driver. "It's going to happen if we don't get more bus drivers."

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