CONWAY, S.C. (WBTW) — One month into the school year, Horry County Schools (HCS) is still short 90 bus drivers.
The number of current vacancies is less than early August after the district hired and placed 10 new drivers. The district said more relief is on the way, as 26 prospective drivers are in the middle of the hiring process.
To help make sure timely transportation is provided, the district has combined 82 bus routes this year. HCS said 4% of the more than 1,300 bus routes are significantly late because of a lack of drivers.
“It’s amazing to think of those types of numbers, shortage wise, compared to the routes and the numbers that we run daily,” HCS Executive Director of Transportation Ben Prince said. “It really reflects on the hard work of our on-site people that are doing their very best every single day.”
Prince said the district uses software that analyzes and merges routes to help increase efficiency.
“With a routing system like that coupled with the staff members we have in place, we’ve really been able to maximize our resources and provide the very best,” Prince said.
The shortage of bus drivers is so severe in Massachusetts, the state’s National Guard stepped in to plug the gaps. So far this school year, the South Carolina National Guard said it “has not received any official requests for that type of support.”
Horry County Schools said it’s managed its shortage with existing personnel, with trained supervisors sometimes driving routes.
“That takes a lot of work, and it takes a lot of commitment, and it takes getting there early and staying there late for a lot of staff members, but they will do whatever it takes for the students and our parents of Horry County Schools,” Prince said.
Lisa Bourcier, HCS director of strategic communications, said the district put all hands on deck to provide efficient transportation. Bourcier said HCS is pleased with the outcome one month into the school year.
“We’re very proud of what we’ve done to date,” Bourcier said. “We could do better if we had additional personnel which we are actively seeking.”
Horry County Schools is hosting three job fairs in the coming weeks and months to find more bus drivers. The first of three upcoming fairs is next week.
“They’ve been very well attended so we are hoping again for a good turnout for those to get people to apply,” Bourcier said. “We are still doing our incentive or our bonus for new drivers as well as our current drivers as well.”
Horry County Schools bus driver job fairs:
- 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 21, at the Socastee Bus Office
- 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 19, at Conway High School
- 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 16, at North Myrtle Beach High School
Base pay is $13.25 an hour, and HCS said the hiring process can take up to six weeks.