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Gov. Roy Cooper Announces $1 Million to Bolster School Bus Driver Training

Source: News & Observer

North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper recently announced that he is allocating $1 million in federal funding to bolster school bus driver training. The money will be used to hire seven temporary trainers, provide retention bonuses to current trainers, and purchase two dedicated training buses.

The announcement comes as North Carolina is facing a statewide school bus driver shortage. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, the state’s largest district, is down 30 drivers, and dozens of others are on approved leave. The shortage has forced CMS drivers to take on multiple routes and even sent the district’s transportation director out on the road.

Cooper said that the $1 million investment is not enough to solve the problem, but it is a start. He called on the state legislature to pass a budget that includes additional funding for school bus drivers.

“North Carolina desperately needs more school bus drivers and the way to get them is to pay them more and train them faster,” Cooper said. “If legislative Republicans would do their jobs and pass a strong public education budget now, we could better attack this challenge.”

The DMV says that it takes 52 days from the time a person applies to being able to take a route. The new funding will help to shorten the training time and get more drivers on the road.

CMS transportation manager Jabar Duncan said that the district is also working to attract and retain drivers by offering higher pay and additional benefits.

“We have great benefits, and we need you,” Duncan said.

The school bus driver shortage is a problem that is affecting districts across the state. In recent years, the number of school bus drivers has declined due to a number of factors, including low pay, long hours, and the rising cost of liability insurance.

The $1 million investment from Governor Cooper is a step in the right direction, but it is clear that more needs to be done to address the school bus driver shortage. Republicans in the General Assembly simply must pass a budget, one that prioritizes our public schools. While GOP leaders argue over casinos our kids are left standing on the side of the road.

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