CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Charlotte-Mecklenburg School District (CMS) is looking for bus drivers. The district held a job fair Tuesday at Phillip O. Berry Academy of Technology from 3 p.m. until 6 p.m. to try and fill those vacancies.
The district say about 60 people showed up. CMS says it has over 37 bus driver positions to fill. Those vacancies are because of retirements and drivers simply leaving the district for various reasons.
CMS says the bus driver shortage puts a strain on the district. Substitute drivers are now filling the void.
"It just increases our service level when we are able to be fully staffed," CMS Director of Safety and Quality Management Devery Peterson said.
The recruitment effort comes at a time when CMS is trying to identify the reason why two of its buses suddenly caught fire within a month of each other. There were not any injuries. The district says it still doesn't know what happened but believes the area around the starter is a concern.
"I imagine that makes people extra cautious about wanting to sign up for that job as well," Former CMS Parent Gillian Stevens said.
CMS says safety is key. Bus driver candidates must pass a safety course conducted by the state to help keep drivers and students safe.
"It's a week-long training class and during that class of course safety is emphasized. They are also learning how to operate a school bus safely," Peterson said.
CMS bus drivers start off making nearly $13 per hour. Candidates must acquire a North Carolina Commercial Drivers License, pass a drug test, background check and provide references before getting behind the wheel of a bus.
"If they are giving good pay and giving good training they should be able to get good qualified applicants," Stevens said.
A new bus driver class will start in December and another one will start in January.