HORRY COUNTY, S.C. (WBTW) — The first day of school in Horry County is just around the corner, but the district is continuing to recruit bus drivers to keep routes running smoothly, officials said.

There has been a shortage of school bus drivers across the U.S. since the pandemic. Horry County is no exception, but the district said things are looking better each year.

“We currently have 308 bus drivers ready for this upcoming school year, but we need about 80 additional bus drivers,” Horry County Schools spokesperson Lisa Bourcier said. “So we have had recent job fairs throughout the school year and over the summer.” 

The district is being aggressive in its recruiting efforts with the job fairs and incentives for those who take the job and stay on, Bourcier said. Currently, the starting pay for a bus driver with no experience is $17.71 an hour plus all the benefits of being a state employee. 

“If they come into and apply without a CDL license, we will pay for the CDL license and all the training for the job as well,” Bourcier said. “And you get state retirement, you get full benefits.”

There are other changes this year, including new, mandatory GPS technology from the state Department of Education that is designed to help the district consolidate bus routes and be more efficient.

“We can look at how long buses are at stops and the routes that they go, and the number of people that they pick up,” Bourcier said. “And that’s what really worked well last year is consolidating routes. So we’re being more efficient with our bus drivers.”

Horry County Schools is expected to welcome about 660 new students into the district this year. The first day of school and the two weeks that follow can be a hectic time for drivers and school traffic, so the district is asking for everyone to be patient while things get sorted out.

The district also is asking parents to update their contact information in Power Schools. That way, if a bus is running late or there is a change in a student’s transportation, the proper notification can be made.

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Taylor Maresca is the weekend morning anchor and morning reporter at News13. She joined the team in June 2022 after graduating from the University of Arizona. Taylor is from Houston. Follow Taylor on Twitter and read more of her work here.